FCC hosts outreach session to help identify suicide risk in veterans

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- When it comes to military service, Valley families have always been highly involved.

Fresno City College hosted this outreach session to help non-profits, churches and even law enforcement identify risk factors among our veterans.

Families were encouraged to engage their loved ones if they think they need help.

"A lot of times we don't want to have these difficult conversations, especially when our loved ones return from combat. They're experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress and depression and what we're called to do is kind of normalize that. We've all experienced that. It's okay to talk about that," said Jerry Silva.

Silva is a Suicide Prevention Coordinator with the Fresno VA Hospital. Vets often don't want to seek help so it's important loved ones watch them closely.

An estimated 20 veterans a day commit suicide. Experts say 14 of those veterans were not connected to any kind of healthcare where they could get help.

"Observe any unusual signs or behaviors. See if there might be issues around substance abuse as well," Silva said.

Homelessness is another factor which can impact a veteran's mental health.

Veterans can often seem detached so it's important you have the courage to communicate.

Social worker Derric Brown said, "Whenever a veteran comes back from boot camp or if they come back from deployment, if they begin to isolate themselves then that is a clear warning that we need to engage."

Brown says by talking sports or playing cards, it's easier to take the conversation into areas where a veteran can be struggling. Finding them professional care, if needed, is key.

Veterans in need who don't know where to start can always call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1 (800) 273-TALK.
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