VA data shows veteran suicides up slightly from 2018 to 2019

Published: Sep. 17, 2021 at 9:10 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - In 2019, 25 military veterans around Alaska died by suicide. According to 2018 data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, that’s seven more compared to the previous year.

“Suicide is extremely complex,” said Rebeca Chace, the suicide prevention coordinator at Anchorage’s VA Medical Center. “There’s not one single cause.”

Chace pointed out that it takes about a year to collect all the data regarding suicides among veterans, which is why the numbers for 2020 have not yet been released.

However, there are warning signs families of veterans should know.

“Extreme sadness, not being able to get out of bed, the depression, anxiety, anger, those mood swings,” Chace said.

Recognizing those signs helped David Hyde.

“If it wasn’t for my friends and family calling me, I wouldn’t be here,” Hyde said. He contemplated suicide after he left the Marine Corps. “I came home, got divorced, came home to a kid that wasn’t mine.”

Hyde is building a new life for himself as an aviation mechanic through an organization called Veteran Internships Providing Employment Readiness (VIPER) Transitions. These have been difficult times for Hyde, who served in Afghanistan.

“I’ve had seven veterans I know personally in the last six months commit suicide,” Hyde previously told Alaska’s News Source.

According to the VA, the U.S. had 399 fewer veteran suicides in 2019 compared to the previous year.

If a veteran needs help, or someone is a friend or family member of a veteran who suffers from emotional trouble, they can call the Veterans Crisis Line at 800-273-8255. It’s available around the clock, seven days a week.

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