Active duty suicides eclipse battle deaths
While the U.S. bolsters its resources to help active duty military personnel back home, the number of suicides in that group is rising. So far this year, more troops are dying by suicide than are dying in battle. Our Erin Vannella tells us where they can get help in the Capital Region.
To view our videos, you need to
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.
Then come back here and refresh the page.
CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. -- "They have taken over 500,000 calls since they started in 2007 and they've done over 30,000 rescues," said Stratton VA Medical Center Suicide Prevention Coordinator Joseph Hunter.
Crisis hotlines and counselors can't keep up. According to the Pentagon, more active duty troops are dying this year by suicide than in battle.
"The trend is not limited to our younger veterans," said Hunter. "In fact, we still have older veterans who are still dying more frequently by suicide than our younger veterans."
Proof is in the numbers. Compare 124 suicides between January and June this year to an average 128 suicides reported in each of the past three years.
"Specifically we know that deployments and frequent deployments to hostile environments, exposure to extreme stress and injury while in combat are all associated with increased risk for suicide," said Hunter
Add to that relationship problems, housing, personal finances and the economy.
"If you think about it, somebody flies a Blackhawk helicopter overseas and then comes back here and is lucky to find any kind of job," said Hunter.
But ask for help and you'll get it, said Hunter. If a crisis line isn't enough, visit the VA hospital, check their Facebook page, or text a counselor. There are veteran employers who want you and free legal advice that awaits you. Admitting you need help isn't a sign of weakness he says. It's empowering.
"People do get better," said Hunter. "We have people who attempt suicide and are not successful are very grateful they're still alive."
The Department of Veterans Affairs has recently added 1,700 mental health staff positions and doubled the size of its PTSD treatment team.
For more information, call the crisis line at (800) 273-8255, text 838255 or visit the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/#!/VAAlbany.