People gathered at Erie VA Medical Center to raise awareness and remember veterans and loved ones lost to suicide

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ERIE, Pa (WJET) – The suicide rate among U.S. veterans is still a little more than twice the rates of the civilian population, but help is out there.

This is the beginning of Suicide Prevention Week. People gathered together at the VA Medical Center to raise awareness and remember veterans and loved ones lost to suicide.

For some, it’s a silent epidemic, a big problem that often gets little attention.

“Anyone impacted by suicide, veteran suicide, we’re here to remember those individuals and most importantly provide education to the community, our staff members, that veterans are not in it alone,” said John Gennaro, Medical Center Director, Erie VA Center.

Community Members walked throughout the surrounding streets of the medical center to raise awareness of suicide and to support one another. The walk helps bring people together to help fight against the act.

“That’s exactly what the Erie community does. It provides support to veterans or so whether it’s family or those who don’t have family. They have social services at the facility and veterans as peers,” said Gennero.

The veterans affairs facility provides guidance for those who need extra support through hard times.

“Various behavioral health services, both individual therapy, group therapy. We also have crisis intervention and work that suicide prevention coordinators do. These services are not only available to veterans, but also available to service members, their family, their friends, and all the community,” said Shannon Brown, Suicide Prevention Coordinator.

There are signs that you can look out for if you know someone that may be struggling with the thought of suicide.

Signs of suicide include:

  • readjustment period coming back to civil life
  • insomnia
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • substance abuse

The veteran center also provides a 24 hour hotline for those looking for support. This week, the Erie VA Center will hold multiple events to remember those lost to suicide, including the Celebration of Life Remembrance on September 13th at noon.

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