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Reducing Suicide Rates Among Soldiers and Veterans

Pete Springer/OPB

Suicide is undoubtedly a problem that few people want to discuss, but when it comes to the country’s active-duty soldiers and veterans, not talking is potentially part of the problem.

Josh Groesz, the military helpline director at Oregon Partnership Lines for Life, says they take at least one call a day about a suicide risk from a service member, veteran, or family member here in Oregon. He says:

When you are in the Service you can be looked down upon if you are complaining about your ankle hurting. It is a no whining job. And when it comes to pain that you can’t see it is even harder. There is a perceived stigma behind mental health issues and suicide. It pushes them over the edge, feeling like they would be judged or punished if they talked about their suicidal thoughts.

And when it comes to veterans he says there is often a “sense of isolation when you’re no longer around others who have served. It can lead to an identity crisis.” These are just two of the reasons he gives for what some people call an epidemic of suicide among soldiers and veterans.

One effort to reduce the number of deaths is being put forth by the Department of Defense. They are pushing to restrict personal weapons for active duty soldiers who are at risk of suicide.

What do you think of that idea? If you agree with the idea, should it apply to veterans too? If not, what do you think should be done to reduce suicides?

If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide, here’s the number of an Oregon suicide prevention line800-273-8255. 

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