Veterans Dealing With Suicide Crisis

(Memphis) As we welcome home thousands of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, we’re facing a crisis among vets this Veterans Day.

The Department of Veteran’s Affairs reports about one veteran commits suicide every hour.

That’s 22 veteran suicides a day across the country.

Volunteers are posted at the Memphis Crisis Center 24/7 to answer phone calls from people who need help the most, specifically suicide calls.

“We have seen an increase in calls from veterans,” said executive director of the Memphis Crisis Center, Mike LaBonte.

LaBonte says almost one in three suicide calls nationally are from veterans.

Emergency calls from veterans have increased drastically since July.

“We are probably seeing an increase in suicide with veterans because we have more of our troops coming home now and there are adjustment issues and they are coming home to a depressed economy,” said LeBonte.

The Memphis Crisis Center is working closely with the VA to make sure veterans are plugged into all resources available to help them deal with post-traumatic stress disorder, and reintegrating back into life in the US.

Ninety-three percent of all suicide calls answered by the Memphis Crisis Center end successfully.

The crisis center is depends on donations from United Way and The University of Tennessee Health Science Center, and it’s entirely run by volunteers, who they are in desperate need of as all crisis calls have skyrocketed.

“In 2012 we saw an increase in our call volume of 25 percent. Nearly 18,000 calls,” said LaBonte.

LaBonte says those 18,000 calls are more intense with callers closer to doing harm to themselves, as suicide calls doubled.

He cites the economy and underlying mental issues for the increase.

Verterans are not just struggling with suicide.

One in three vets is homeless, and LaBonte says we can all help by getting involved to make a difference.

If you would like to learn how you can help with the Memphis Crisis Center visit its website at www.memphiscrisiscenter.org.

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