By Kara Linaburg
Shinnston is coming together to offer veteran suicide prevention training for locals and first responders this March. Cliff Shingleton, the facilitator, says that organizers are hosting the training because of the continual high rates of deaths by suicide in West Virginia among veterans.
According to the American Psychological Association, veterans are 1.5 times more likely to take their own life than civilians, and the chance of a rural death by suicide is even higher than in an urban area. “These veterans are an important group to focus on because they are about 20% more likely to die by suicide than urban-based veterans owing to factors such as greater access to lethal means, reduced access to good health care, geographic isolation, and loneliness,” Nate Mohatt, Ph.D. and psychologist, said, according to the APA website.
Due to high exposure to trauma, stress, fatigue, isolation, and burnout, among countless other factors, it can be difficult for friends and family to understand what their loved one is going through and how to help. And according to the Under Secretary for Health at the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, Shereef Elnahal, on the VA website, “Suicide is one of the most serious public health issues facing our Veterans today, and VA cannot do this work alone.”
Shingleton said that participants who attend the preventive training in March should expect to be educated in veteran culture, learn the right questions to ask a veteran who may be hurting, and gain the tools and resources they need to effectively aid a hurting loved one in their life, or to simply gain a better understanding of those who have served in our military. This training is also critical for first responders who may be called to help a troubled veteran.
The mental health problems associated with risk of suicide are treatable, and suicide is preventable. Those in crisis or who know someone in crisis can reach trained listeners by calling the national Suicide and Crisis Hotline at 988 or by texting HELLO to 741741.
The training will be held Friday, March 3, at the Shinnston American Legion Hall, and all are welcome. Dinner will begin at 6:30 p.m. and training will follow at 7 p.m. Shingleton asked that those wishing to attend contact the American Legion to make sure enough food will be prepared for the event. For more information and to RSVP, please send an email to email@example.com.