Summit seeks to find solutions to curb veteran suicide - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Summit seeks to find solutions to curb veteran suicide

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Twenty-two veterans commit suicide every day according to the Veteran's Administration.

“Soldier after soldier will tell you, I know how to kill, I've been trained how to kill. I don't know how to live,” said Stephen Ulrich, an advocate for suicide prevention.

On Friday, the Louisville VA brought organizations and national experts together in a summit to discuss suicide prevention programs and help curb the startling statistics.

“One every 80 seconds,” said Kentucky National Guard Colonel Charles Jones.

Colonel Jones, who's been serving with the Kentucky National Guard for 37 years, said it's an invisible disease.

“You can't see it, it's not physical wounds.”

He said that's what makes it so hard to treat. Of the 22 veterans who take their lives daily, only five seek treatment. But now the issue is starting to be tackled from the front end before soldiers are even enlisted.

“We start a resiliency program to build inner resilience to where they've basically got the traits and the skills to know when they have an issue to come forward,” said Jones.

Even if they don't know when to come forward, Colonel Jones says there are signs to look for: isolation, excessive drinking, financial problems, and domestic issues.

Mental and psychological health evaluations are also completed prior to a reintegration program.

“A lot of resources are put in place toward that to help them transition back into society to where they're not dealing with those situations by themselves,” said Jones.

Some also suggest the biggest solution is working with support groups and just knowing someone is there to talk.

“They fought an enemy that they could see and defeated that enemy, but the enemy that they can't see is where they need help,” said Ulrich

Veterans contemplating suicide can call a 24-hour crisis hotline at 1-800-273-TALK or chat online at veteranscrisisline.net.

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