COKATO, MN When soldiers return home, they are often thankful to be away from the terrors they physically left behind. For some, however, the battle rages on a field they carry with them their mind.
According to a 2014 study by JAMA Psychiatry, every one in four soldiers on active duty shows signs of a mental health condition; the three most common being postraumatic stress disorder, depression, and traumatic brain injury.
An average of 20 veterans committed suicide every day in 2014, according to the Office of Suicide Prevention in the US Department of Veteran Affairs.
This rate accounted for 18 percent of all US adult suicide deaths.
In order to provide a better understanding of mental illness and the treatments available, Cokato American Legion Post 209 is sponsoring a suicide prevention presentation Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. at Cokato City Hall.
The presentation is open to the public, and will address how to recognize signs of mental illness and how to assist someone in getting help.
“While our focus is on veterans, suicide is also a national and local community health issue,” stated past Cokato American Legion Post 209 commander Mike Ackerman. “By increasing understanding of mental health issues, we can raise awareness and gain more support in preventing suicide.”
Recognizing mental illness
Wondering when it is time to seek professional help? The US Department of Veterans Affairs has provided a list of signs and symptoms to help identify when oneself or a loved one is possibly suffering from mental illness.
A person should pursue professional help if he/she is:
• exhibiting attitudes and behaviors that differ from the individual’s values, morals, or usual character;
• exhibiting anger, anxiety, agitation, or moodiness;
• isolating or withdrawing oneself from loved ones, social gatherings, or activities he/she usually enjoys;
• neglecting care for oneself or other responsibilities, such as bathing, finances, or work-related tasks;
• performing self-destructive behaviors, including alcohol abuse or illegal drug use; or
• experiencing a sense of hopelessness, worthlessness, or suicidal thoughts.
If in a crisis, call the Veterans Crisis Line, (800) 273-8255, press 1.