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September is Suicide Prevention Month

Organizations urge people to seek help after exceptionally hard year
Published: Sep. 10, 2021 at 6:46 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) -September is suicide prevention month, and a pandemic, civil unrest and the recent headlines in Afghanistan are shining light on the significance of mental health.

While it is important to reduce stigma and encourage people to seek help every year, mental health professionals said, this year is proving exceptionally challenging for many.

“Our suicide rates for our kids has gone up to 62 percent in one year,” said Shelly Jernigan with NAMI Southern Arizona. “Our police officers’ suicide rate has almost doubled in two years…It’s been staggering numbers for our healthcare workers….veterans numbers in suicide rates have gone up 37% in 2020.”

While the Southern Arizona Veterans Affairs said they do not have statistics for 2020 yet, general trends in the previous few years actually shows suicide rates in veterans ever slowly declining. However, they do expect numbers to rise again after this past year and recent headlines regarding the Middle East.

“Since the withdrawal from Afghanistan, we’ve certainly seen some veterans who are seeking out care,” said Dan Cook with Southern Arizona VA. “We started a support group that meets on Wednesdays at 2:30.”

The support group is aimed for those veterans from the 9/11 war era, however, is open to all veterans. The VA said recent events from Afghanistan have brought up similar feelings for Vietnam and Korean veterans. The group is available via in person meeting or online. Visit the VA’s website for more information.

NAMI said more people have been seeking their services as well, primarily when it comes to their services for children, teens and young adults.

“With this last year, almost every class has got a waiting list,” said Jernigan. “Our door will always be open, whether it’s closed to the public or not right now, give us a call, we will always be here.”

More people may be in need, but the VA and NAMI are more ready to help than ever. Seeing the demand, they want people to know they are here, and to seek help when they need. From veterans, first responders, children and older adults, the last year has been hard for many.

“Certainly, I think things like the pandemic, things like withdrawal from Afghanistan, 20th anniversary to 9/11, I think all those things add extra stressors,” said Cook.

If you or a loved one are in need of crisis help, call or reach out to any of the numbers below. NAMI also has several suicide prevention events this month, visit their website for more information.

Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Text Line (24/7 and confidential)

Text Hello to 741741

Veteran’s Crisis Line:

800-273-8255 (press 1)

Arizona Complete Health Suicide Line:

866-495-6735

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