Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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February 6, 2013

Military scrambles to stop suicides

(Continued)

The military is trying to eliminate that stigma in addition to other suicide prevention efforts, which include increasing the number of behavioral health care providers and studying ways to mitigate suicide-related behavior, said Cynthia Smith, a Pentagon spokeswoman.

Last year, the Pentagon created the Defense Suicide Prevention Office, which oversees suicide prevention and resilience programs, including prevention efforts administered by each branch of the armed services, she said.

In Massachusetts, the National Guard has worked with the University of Massachusetts Medical School to train its members to notice in their colleagues warning signs of suicide such as depression or increased alcohol use, and to encourage them to get treatment.

Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics also offer services for depression, PTSD and other related issues. But Campbell said the VA is overwhelmed.

“The VA itself has acknowledged they can’t keep up with the demand in terms of veterans reaching out to the system,” she said. “They’re putting more resources into this need, but it’s difficult for them to keep up.”

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Douglas Moser writes for The Eagle-Tribune in North Andover, Mass. Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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