SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Recent studies show suicide rates for veterans have climbed as much as 20 percent this year.
According to the Savannah VA Clinic, suicide rates for veterans are 1.5 times the rate of those who have not served in the military and are even 2 times higher for female veterans.
“Veterans experience a lot of stress and they may not get full support when they get out and may not get full support even when they’re in,” psychologist at the Savannah VA Clinic Dr. Emily Bower said. “Some veterans face life or death situations that also can be very stressful.”
Rates of veteran suicides have gone up more than 43 percent from 2005 through 2017. But Bower says most veterans who decide to end their lives have not participated in veterans affairs care.
She says the Savannah VA clinic can be a lifesaving resource in offering to counsel for PTSD and bereavement and help for victims of military sexual trauma.
“I think that we can help take some of that burden off,” she said. “Especially to know that you’re not alone. So many veterans go through this and there is help available.”
The clinic has therapists who have also served in the military and can relate to a veteran’s mental health struggles, including peer support programs.
“It can be a coach and a buddy when sometimes the system can feel so big and mysterious,” Bower said.
Bower says if you’re not in the Savannah area, you can still participate in their virtual telehealth options, along with 19,000 other veterans in the coastal Georgia area.
She says if you need to speak with someone immediately, call the Veteran’s Crisis Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1 or visit the nearest hospital.
“In this Savannah area, if we have a veteran who’s in crisis, we recommend actually going to the nearest hospital,” Bower said. “The hospital will know what to do in terms of recognizing you as a veteran and taking good care of you.”