September is Suicide Awareness Month.  I was joined on WJON by St. Cloud V.A. Suicide Prevention Coordinator Jinae Plumhoff and St. Cloud V.A. Public Affairs Officer Barry Venable on WJON.  Plumhoff highlighted how to help prevent suicide in this community.  She says the goal is to increase each person's protective factors and reduce the risk factors to highlight their reasons to live.  Plumhoff describes protective factors as spirituality, access to mental health care, sense of connectiveness with others, social and emotional well being, mission, purpose, physical health, and employment.

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Plumhoff indicates those suffering from mental health challenges thinking about suicide who are veterans proceed differently statistically than those who do not have a military background.  She says veteran women are 3 and a half more likely to attempt suicide than the general population and veteran men are 3 and half times more likely to die by suicide.  Plumhoff explains that's because of the means they have access to.  She says 48% of non veterans who have died by suicide used a firearm with 68.2% of veterans who have died by suicide used a firearm.

photo courtesy of St. Cloud V.A.
photo courtesy of St. Cloud V.A.

Plumhoff identifies the following risk factors of suicide.... prior suicide attempts, mental health issues especially if they are untreated, substance abuse, access to lethal means, recent loses of any kind, relationship issues, and financial issues.  Some signs to look for include hopelessness, isolation, depression, anxiety, change in sleep patterns, change in mood, and engaging in risky activities.

If veterans would like more information and to get connected with the St. Cloud V.A., if they are not already connected, they should reach out to the Suicide Prevention Department.  Barry Venable encourages all veterans in need to utilize the Veterans Crisis Line which is 800-273-8255.

If you'd like to listen to my conversation with Jinae Plumhoff and Barry Venable it is available below.



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