Veterans organization shines light on recent suicides

A Kentucky veterans organization is shining a light on a troubling recent trend: an uptick in veteran suicides this holiday season

LOUISVILLE, Ky (WTVQ)- For many, the holidays are an exciting time spent with family and friends. But for others, it can be a very lonely season- especially for veterans.

A Kentucky veterans organization is shining a light on a troubling recent trend: an uptick in veteran suicides this holiday season.

“Over the course of the last month, we’ve had a couple of veterans who have taken their own lives,” says Jeremy Harrell, the founder of the Veteran’s Club LLC. It’s an organization that helps support veterans and their families.

Harrell attended the funeral of one of those veterans just days ago.

“What’s interesting about that gentleman is a month ago, I talked to 1,200 air force personnel at the air force base about suicide prevention,” Harrell says. “Still a month later, a gentlemen sat through that class decided it was appropriate to take his own life.”

The Department of Veterans Affairs says in its recent report, more than 6000 veterans died by suicide in 2020.

Julie Cerel is a professor at the University of Kentucky’s College of Social Work and a licensed psychologist. She says its a myth that there are more suicides during the holiday season. But she says there are reasons why the holidays might exacerbate feelings of separation, PTSD, or transitioning into a normal life outside the military.

“When you get back home, for a lot of people, they have more choice, more free time. They have less people telling them what to do but also they don’t have that structure. And that for a lot of veterans, they don’t feel like they belong in the same way. They’re not constantly around people,” says Cerel.

Cerel says there are some warning phrases to look out for that could indicate someone could be thinking about suicide.

“The important thing to look out for is someone who is talking about suicide, someone who has a means to end their life. And someone who is making statements like “I wont be around much longer’ or ‘you wont have to worry about me anymore,'” says Cerel.

The Veterans Club says there are resources available for veterans, including the Veterans Club in Louisville, your local VA office or hospital, or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, simply by dialing 988.

“There’s no weakness in reaching out. In fact, its a responsible think to do. We’re not really designed to do life alone,” says Harrell.

Harrell also mentioned other veterans resources, like Life in Motion and Make the Connection. He also says the Veterans Club is planning a Christmas event on December 21st which will be open to all veterans It will be at Veteran’s Club HQ, 4218 Shelbyville Road, Louisville, KY 40207



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