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Military Veterans Account For 1/5 Of U.S. Suicides

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Joel Thomas
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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - There are a growing number of families that are not honored for losing loved ones who served their country. Their family members committed suicide.

“There’s still a stigma for the families and even for the veterans who need help when they’re used to being the ones who protect us,” Teresa Linn, a counselor for the Warrior Support program that counsels military, police and fire department members, explained.

Monday, counselors and families who’ve known people who’ve committed suicide met at a pavilion in Trinity Park. They gathered to have a picnic and talk.

The group also got together because two bicyclists made a stop, on a cross-country tour from San Francisco to New York State, to promote suicide awareness and prevention.

The cyclists and members of the group say they know, especially on Memorial Day, that veterans and their families need help.

“As more and more of the soldiers come back from multiple deployments the need has really risen and also for the family members,” Linn said.

Recent statistics show only one-percent of Americans serve in the military, but military veterans account for some 20-percent of U.S. suicides.

On average 18 veterans commit suicide everyday. And numbers show every 36 hours, and one active military person takes their own life.

On a day when we honor fallen heroes, what do you say about these men and women?

“It makes it harder for the bereaved to know how to talk about that with others and it makes it harder for the community to know how to respond to that,” said Sharon Walker, with the Survivors of Suicide Support Group. “In a society where we like to have a simple explanation to complex situations, its too difficult to have a simple answer.”

While on their cycling tour, the two bicyclists, both who lost loved ones because of suicide, said they’re not seeing military members or their families reaching out as they should.

“They’re trained to be these warriors going in,” cyclist Thomas Brown said. “But it doesn’t seem mandatory to be trained to be a civilian coming back out.”

For more information about counseling services check out the Mental Health America of Greater Tarrant County website.

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