New campaign brings awareness to veteran suicide prevention
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and a new campaign is helping shed light on a number of veterans who die by suicide.
The Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs (ADVA) and the Alabama Department of Mental Health (ADMH) are partnering with seven schools in the state for “Operation We Remember.”
The new visual campaign serves as a reminder that suicide knows no boundaries. Participating colleges and universities will display 152 American flags on their campuses during the month of September. The 152 flags honor and remember the same number of veterans in Alabama who lost their lives to suicide in 2020.
“The sad fact is that, in Alabama, about every 2.4 days, a veteran takes their own life,” said Commissioner Kent Davis, Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs. “Suicide prevention is never an easy subject or an enjoyable conversation, but we hope this visual display will show the reality of how many Veterans have those invisible wounds and help create impactful, long-term change.”
Student Veterans associations participating include – the University of Alabama, Auburn University, Troy University, Jacksonville State University, University of North Alabama, University of Montevallo and Shelton State University.
Riverwalk Stadium in downtown Montgomery also has the flags on display through September 11, as the Montgomery Biscuits complete their regular-season home stretch.
“Hopefully, our platform will be able to create an atmosphere where people can have those important conversations right here in the ballpark and throughout the Montgomery Community,” said Montgomery Biscuits general manager Mike Murphy.
Nearly 18 percent of people who die by suicide in Alabama are veterans. Officials are hoping that this simple reminder will encourage those who need help to speak up and will raise awareness that veteran suicide in Alabama needs to be addressed.
“Solving the tragedy of suicide is going to take everyone’s help in Alabama and we are serious about bringing everyone together in this effort,” Davis said.
Supporting veterans through mental health resources is crucial. Officials urge those who need help to dial the new 9-8-8 crisis hotline and seek assistance through Alabama’s new crisis centers, which are open 24/7. There is also a list of resources available at vetsforhope.com.
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