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Veterans speak out during Suicide Prevention Month

YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - Veterans sacrifice their lives for our freedoms, but many face a real struggle when they return home.

September is suicide prevention month and according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, veterans are at a higher risk for suicide than the general population.

The Suicide Prevention Resource Center said recent estimates suggest 22 veterans die by suicide each day.

Unfortunately, Yuma County locals, Blade Anthony and Steve Kimmerling were almost a part of that statistic. 

“So, I tried to take my life three times, the first time failed, the second time, the third time, I was determined because I did not want to live anymore,” said Blade Anthony, a combat medic veteran.

Anthony said suicide is a serious issue, affecting many military service members and veterans. 

“The pain was so intense and so overwhelming and suppressing, and demoralizing and suffocating, that the only way out was to end my life,” said Anthony.

Steve Kimmerling is an advocate, trying to stop veterans from taking their lives, something he's also closely familiar with. 

“I want everyone to know, and I’m talking to all the veterans, who are suffering, that there is a good energy being inside that mold. Yes, the mold is messed up, the mold’s been injured, but you, as an entity, as a person, deserve better,” said Kimmerling.

According to the 2022 National Veteran Suicide Prevention annual report, in 2020, the suicide rate for veterans was 57 percent higher than for non-veteran adults.

Kimmerling said it's because of the severe pain, depression, and PTSD veterans go through on a daily basis. 

“As a veteran, all you want them to do is help you fix it, you just want to be repaired, returned to who you are,” said Kimmerling.

He said he’s advocating for more veteran mental health resources in Yuma County and across the U.S.

“I would really like to see more power in the hands of counselors and people to go talk to make referrals to see a professional and not necessarily at the VA hospital,” said Kimmerling.

“Please don’t be afraid to reach out and talk to people. I’m hoping that in my lifetime that there will be no more suicide rate in veterans,” said Anthony.

To ensure veterans with mental health have immediate access to trained coordinators, the Department of Veterans Affairs has established a 24-hour national suicide prevention hotline, manned by the national suicide prevention lifeline. 

Veterans in crisis can dial 988, then press one, and be linked to the veteran's crisis line and a crisis intervention professional.  

Article Topic Follows: Local News

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Samantha Byrd

Samantha Byrd joined the KYMA team in February 2022 and is a reporter and anchor for Fox 9.

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