Raising awareness on veteran suicide rates

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SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Tuesday was World Suicide Prevention day and in observance of it, Overton Brooks VA Medical Center is launching an outreach program in response to alarming rates of veteran suicides around the country.

Overton Brooks is using a community-driven approach to prevent suicide and bring awareness through their #BeThere campaign.

The VA says suicide is a complex, national public health issue which affects all communities, including more than 6,000 veterans every year.

“VA is working hard to reduce suicide among veterans whether they receive care through the VA or not,” said Overton Brooks Psychologist and Primary Care physician Dr. Shannon Peck.

Peck said the VA is working to promote their resources and care for veterans using the #BeThere campaign.

“Reach vet what is that? Recovery, engagement, coordination for health, veterans enhanced treatment,” Overton Brooks REACH Vet Coordinator Debbie Merlan explained.

They say it takes a whole-community approach to support local vets.

“It takes a community to address the issue of suicide and together we can do it.”

VA officials say if a veteran is being actively seen by the VA, their risk of suicide greatly decreases. But only a third of veterans come to the VA for health care, so they need everyone in the community to get involved.

“Suicide is a national health concern but it’s preventable. All of us in the ArkLaTex must work together to prevent suicide,” said Overton Brooks social worker Chocka Sullivan.

They said during the month of September, reach out to a veteran to show your support, because one act of thoughtfulness can make a big difference and even may save a life.

The Shreveport VA Hospital is hosting an informational open house Wednesday and September 13.

The VA Hospital will also have a Mental Health Summit on September 18 at the American Legion Post #14 on 5315 South Lakeshore Drive.

For more information on services offered at Overton Brooks visit their website.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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