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Truman VA Hospital Holds 2nd Annual Mental Health Awareness Event

Diana Manuhutu / KBIA

According to the US Department Veteran Affairs, 20 veterans committed suicide every single day in 2018. The number is down slightly from 22 people a day in the previous year.

As a part of the National Suicide Prevention Week, Truman VA Hospital in collaboration with behavioral health agencies and local gyms held its 2nd Annual Mental Health Awareness event.

By raising the theme of “Share the Load”, veterans shared information and experiences about mental health and took part in various activities such as weightlifting exhibitions and family-friendly activities.

Heather Brown, the Strategic Partnership Officer of Truman VA Hospital says, although this number is declining, prevention and assistance efforts for veterans must be continued.

Brown said, one reason for the big rate of suicide among veterans was the difficult transition process from the military back into ordinary society. Other causes are mental health issues such as depression as well as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“I think a feeling on our society is hard but for veteran it may say even more difficult. Because not only you have that regular stigma, you also have a stigma of you’re weak, that something wrong with you, you’re broken.”

Brown says that the Truman VA in Columbia serves 43 counties, as well as Pike County in Illinois. The Truman VA aims to help reduce suicide rates among veterans through many programs. One of them is Suicide Prevention Coordination, which identifies high risk veterans and those who have attempted suicide, and helps reduce the risk of suicide by providing intensive consultation services.