HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — Suicide remains one of the main causes of death among veterans here in north Alabama – that’s according to the Still Serving Veterans organization in Huntsville.
According to the Alabama Department of Veteran Affairs (ADVA), Madison County had the highest rate of veteran suicides in any county in the state of Alabama in the year 2020.
Last year, 152 total veterans died by suicide. That amounted to nearly a fifth of all suicides in Alabama. According to ADVA, that is a much higher rate than the national average. Veterans sign up to protect our country, but there is often a price to service that veterans did not sign up for and that is trauma that follows.
The state of Alabama faces this tragic reality, and they are trying to do something to change that.
Still Serving Veterans is one of the organizers of a statewide initiative called Alabama’s Challenge that’s aimed at preventing suicide among service members across the state that continues in fighting the stigma of mental illness.
“It takes somebody caring enough to put their arm around them, to be interested in people and to build social connectivity which is probably one of the most effective means of countering suicide among any population, but I think particularly among older veterans,” Paulette Risher, the CEO of Still Serving Veterans.
There are currently 80,000 veterans living in the state of Alabama of which 45%, according to the U.S. Census, are the age 65 and older.
But according to Veteran Affairs, the highest number of veteran suicides in the United States are among veterans in that age group.
Still Serving Veterans has announced a special town hall to take place on Wednesday, September 28. You can find information on the meeting here.