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Minnesota National Guard
Minnesota National Guard leaders discuss suicide during suicide awareness roundtable

Minnesota National Guard MINNEAPOLIS, Minn- According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, about 22 veterans in the US are lost each day to suicide And while statistics vary from state to state, from age group to age group and from organization to organization, suicide is undoubtedly an issue for those who have served and their families

Leaders from the Minnesota National Guard talked about the topic of suicide in a recent round table discussion on Minnesota Military Radio during a September show in honor of National Suicide Prevention Month (To listen to the complete show, visit http://minnesotamilitaryradiohourcom/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/MMR091414mp3)

"People don't like to talk about it," said Maj Buddy Winn, the Minnesota National Guard's full-time support chaplain "It's uncomfortable, it's a painful topic for many, and largely I believe that comes from a lack of understanding about all the issues that are wrapped up in this topic"

Throughout the military, leaders are working to overcome the stigma that many associate with asking for help Once thought to be a sign of weakness, more and more people are realizing that asking for help takes courage and shows strength

"The message that we want folks to take away from today it that it's okay to ask for help and if you're a person who cares for a veteran or any person who is at risk or hurting that there are very simple and practical steps that you can take to help someone in crisis," said Winn

Identifying when a person is in need of help is crucial, as well as knowing when and how to intervene

"Signs of someone who is suicidal can be the same signs as someone who may be having a bad day or is dealing with a bout of depression," said Winn "I think it's important for anyone who knows a veteran to inform themselves, to educate themselves about what are the risk factors what do they look like what are the signs of someone who is at risk"

"I think one of the biggest things to look for is mention or evidence of hopelessness in the life of someone you care about," said Winn "Like they're at the end of the rope, like there's no light at the end of the tunnel, like they're just ready to give up If this is a persistent thought, then that should put up people's radar to take action to help those that are at risk"

One way the Minnesota National Guard is working to combat suicide is by training its Soldiers to be more resilient The Minnesota National Guard currently has 320 trained Suicide Intervention Officers and 144 resilience trainers

"We're teaching our Service members how to look at the perspective that they take on life and looking for the good things in everything that they go through," said Capt Ron Jarvi, the Minnesota National Guard Resilience, Risk Reduction and Suicide Prevention program manager "In the Soldier creed that we live by in the military there's a line in there that talks about, 'I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough' This 'mentally tough,' this is where the rubber meets the road; this is where we teach our Service members to be mentally strong"

If you or someone you know is at risk, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, then press 1 or text to 838255 or chat online at VeteranCrisisLinenet

September 25, 2014
by Master Sgt Blair Heusdens
Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs

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