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Agencies combat veterans’ high suicide rates

By MARY SELL and TODD STACY, Alabama Daily News

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – In 2020, 152 military veterans in Alabama died by suicide.

“I don’t want to underplay this … we have a real problem in Alabama with veteran suicides,” Kent Davis, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs, told Alabama Public Television’s Capitol Journal recently. “Also, active duty military as well.”

September is Suicide Prevention Month and ADVA launched “Operation We Remember” to raise awareness for veteran suicide. Displays of 152 American flags were placed in various locations around the state, including on college campuses and in front of the Capitol. 

Davis said in recent years, about 140 to 150 veterans per year have died by suicide.

“Unfortunately, that’s one of the highest per capita rates in the United States for veterans’ suicides,” he said.

Davis said his department along with the Alabama Department of Mental Health is trying to reach veterans in crisis and connect them with resources that can help.

There are about 400,000 veterans in Alabama. Nearly 18% of individuals who die by suicide in Alabama are Veterans, ADMH Commissioner Kim Boswell said in a statement last month. 

According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, 79% of all people who die by suicide are male.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people aged 10–14 and the 3rd leading cause of death among people aged 15-24 in the U.S.

For crisis resources, call or text 988 for the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.

Watch Davis’ full interview below.

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