UTAH (ABC4) — There are resources available all across Utah to help veterans who are suffering from a mental health crisis.
“It can be daunting to ask for help,” said psychologist Jo Merrill.
According to the Veteran Affairs Medical Center, though veterans make up 8% of the U.S. population, they account for 14% of the overall suicide cases.
“There are a number of different explanations for that, including higher rates of PTSD and higher rates of traumatic brain injury. Veterans [feel] a loss of connection after leaving the military,” Merrill said.
The Huntsman Institute for Mental Health said many veterans feel that it’s difficult for others to understand their experiences, whether that be about their time in the military or misconceptions about certain illnesses.
“Over 90% of the people who have been diagnosed with PTSD do not have any type of violent history,” said Steve Sugden, assistant clinical professor at the University of Utah.
For many, it can be difficult to get help, but there are resources like the Department of Veterans Affairs, which can provide a variety of mental health care services centered on veterans.
“A lot of veterans fear they may be seen as weak or they may be asking for resources that are not available or that they may be burdening someone. We just want to say, here at the VA, that is not the case, and we are here for you,” Merrill said.
If you feel a loved one is in crisis, such as isolating themselves or falling into addiction, you can also use these resources for help.
If you need immediate assistance the suicide hotline is 988. Extension 1 connects you to the veteran crisis line.
The VA encouraged everyone to remember the acronym S.A.V.E when encountering a veteran in crisis: Signs of suicide should be recognized, asking them the most important question: “Are you thinking of killing yourself?”, validating their feelings, encouraging help and expediting treatment.