Spreading awareness against military suicides - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Spreading awareness against military suicides

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We know the $85 billion in across-the-board automatic spending cuts are slowly taking effect. Areas like education, tourism and nutrition assistance will take big cuts. The military will as well. One area that won't be affected is mental health care for veterans returning home from war.

As U.S. military veteran suicides rise, experts say mental health awareness is more important now more than ever before.

The latest numbers show one military veteran dies by suicide every 65 minutes, an average of 22 deaths per day.

One of those statistics was a man from southern Minnesota who took his own life, last June. The mother of Trever Gould says it's been a long nine months since, but they'll do anything they can to keep it from happening to anyone else.

Sheri Johnson lost her son, an active member of the United States Army, when he was 25 years-old.

When he came home from war, last summer, she said he was different.

"I was one of the naive parents. My son acted, around me, like everything was OK," Trever's  mom Sheri Johnson said.

Sheri learned he developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. He kept to himself. And that's a sign, VA Medical Center suicide prevention expert Janell Christensen says can be a red flag.

"There's sometimes a part of a person that doesn't get shared to other people. those pieces don't become evident until the person dies tragically. That's the tragedy," Janell Christensen said.

And for Trever's family, it was tragic.

"I knew nothing about it. I didn't quite understand it until after the fact and then I started reading, checking into it, reading more and seeing the rates and the statistics, the signs, it was there on the wall for me," Johnson said.

Because of that, she admits, she felt guilty.

"My son is gone, he was such a strong man, didn't believe in suicide, and to do it where I would find him, I never thought it was that bad," Johnson said.

That's her worst fear, for this to happen to another family, which is why she made a facebook page in Trever's honor: The Trever Gould Memorial PAge, to spread the word.

"If we can help family members know what to do, help the veteran know what to do when they're struggling, that's important. it can make so much difference in their life," Christensen said.

"We are losing more and more of our soldiers when they come home than when they're over there. it has to stop," Johnson said.

Christensen has been working with active duty members and veterans for almost two decades. She says once they ask for help, they realize it wasn't as difficult as they thought and most are able to turn their lives around.

For a link to the Trever Gould Memorial Page, click on the link at the top left-hand corner of this page.

Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255 or VeteransCrisisLine.net

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