U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly (D-Indiana) says he wants greater focus on preventing suicide among active-duty military service members and veterans, including an increase in outreach to vets.
Last year, more troops took their own life than died in combat in Afghanistan. And Donnelly says 43% of service members who committed suicide never sought help. He says trying to combat the problem of military and veteran suicide needs to involve erasing the stigma of seeking help.
“They feel like, ‘Well, I don’t want to burden somebody’ or ‘I don’t want anybody to have to worry about me’ or ‘I don’t want anybody to have to spend an extra thought on me.’”
A member of the Senate’s Armed Services Committee, Donnelly says he’s also concerned not enough veterans are taking advantage of the programs and support provided by organizations catering to them.
“Whether it is in internet, online ads, whether it is on TV ads, whether it is on radio – that we tell them, ‘Look, you have a friend; give us a call, let’s see what we can do to work together.’”
Donnelly says he also wants to ensure organizations, such as the V.A., have enough mental health professionals available, which he says has been part of the challenge in curbing military suicide.