Madison Co. faces highest veteran suicide rate in Alabama

Veteran suicide rates
Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 10:09 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 21, 2022 at 6:23 AM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Over 150 veterans committed suicide in Alabama in 2020.

According to the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs, these deaths represent 18% of the state’s suicides for the year. Nearly 60% of the suicides were veterans over the age of 60.

Paulette Risher, President of Still Serving Veterans in Huntsville, says veterans constantly feel the weight of their past bearing down on them.

“They’re disconnected from their communities, they’re by themselves, they feel nobody cares, they have way too much time to think,” Risher said.

Risher says the veteran’s feeling of isolation is harmful to the body and has the same effect on their bodies as would smoking two packs of cigarettes a day.

According to Risher, Madison County has the highest rate of veteran suicides in the state of Alabama. Morgan and Colbert County do not fall far behind in veteran suicide rates.

Risher said supporting veterans is a start to bringing down suicide numbers and preventing someone from taking their own life within the first hour increases their chance of living.

“When we see someone in trouble, we need to reach out and put our arms around them and help them through that,” Risher said. “If you get past this hour, you’ll have a chance of saving their life for life.”

The 2022 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report, shows a decrease in suicides among veterans. Click here to read the report.