The Polk County Board of Commissioners has declared that September be recognized as Military Suicide Prevention Month as a way to bring attention to a growing national issue.
According to a study conducted by the office of Veteran Affairs and released in 2020, the number of veterans who died by suicide has risen over the years. In 2005 there were 6,056 suicides, compared to 6,399 in 2017 and 6,435 in 2018.
There is a variety of reasons for a high suicide rate among veterans, including frequent deployments, stress of combat and prolonged separation from families. Also, military personnel are reluctant to ask for help when they are depressed and untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide among military personnel.
There are many ways for veterans to take care of themselves, including asking for help, finding a support group, finding customized services for your needs, and making a safety plan. The suicide prevention lifeline website has a section dedicated to assisting veterans. (https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/help-yourself/veterans/)
Locally, Polk County Commissioners joins the Polk County Memorial VFW Post #9116 and the Auxiliary in urging all active and former military personnel and their families to seek help for behavior health issues.
For more information, please contact Polk County’s Veterans Service Office at 828-894-0003.