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Veteran resource group advocates for suicide prevention in Michigan

U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs Website

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, in 2020, veterans were over 50% more likely to commit suicide than other US adults.

A new organization in Marquette is offering suicide prevention resources. It is the latest coalition of a nationwide group called “Together with Veterans”.

Frank Lombard, the Veteran's Program Manager for the U.P., said suicide rates are higher among veterans in rural areas.

“In the Upper Peninsula, we've got a high, statistics wise, rate of veteran suicide based on population density,” he said.

Lombard said the veterans group hosts outreach events across the UP, and provides a range of resources to help improve mental health in all aspects. They might connect a veteran to a social network, online gaming site, or outdoor recreation clubs.

“Whatever it is that exists out there, if we're plugging those who have served into those resources, that's a protective factor against veteran suicide,” Lombard said.

Suicide prevention, he added, is a community effort, and people need to be up-front with loved ones in order to help them.

“You want to be direct, and basically say, Hey, are you thinking about killing yourself? And make sure that they can understand that there is hope there are resources available, there are a lot of people who want to help them,” Lombard said.

If you are a veteran struggling with suicidal thoughts, Lombard said to dial 988 and then press 1 to contact the veteran crisis line.

Jill Harrington is a senior at CMU majoring in journalism and minoring in theatre and interpretation. Jill grew up in Novi, Michigan and started reporting for WCMU in summer 2022.