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'Don't wait, reach out' | National call to action aims to combat veteran suicide

Data shows veterans are at a higher risk for suicide compared to the general population.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Editor's Note: This story discusses suicide. Reader discretion is advised.

September is Suicide Awareness Month and according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, veterans are at a higher risk for suicide compared to the general population.

They have sacrificed their lives for our freedoms but many veterans struggle after they've returned home.

“Veterans are trained to meet challenges head-on but veterans also are the last to take a look at what their needs are individually from a prevention or maintenance perspective that can lead to issues or things piling up,” Dr. Matthew Miller, a veteran who now works in the VA said.

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Data shows since September 11, 2001, four times more veterans have died by suicide than in combat. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, veterans are at a 50% higher risk of suicide than civilians, prompting the need for a ten-year strategy to end veteran suicide.

This year, the VA launched a new ad campaign “don’t wait, reach out.”

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“It’s messaging that’s created by shaped by and delivered by veterans,” Miller said. “So, if you want to know what veterans’ message is right now, if you want to know what’s on their minds, it’s don’t wait, reach out.”

The website makes resources to support mental and physical health, finances, education, housing and more easily accessible. It’s available for friends and family of veterans too.

An effort to protect those who have protected us.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, call 988.

Contact Chloe Leshner at cleshner@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

If you or a loved one are facing thoughts of suicide or self-harm, there is help readily available. You can call Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 or chat with them online. There are also resources in North Carolina available here and in South Carolina available here.  

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