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Combating Suicide Among Mississippi Veterans
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A U.S. Soldier Trying to Cope

More than 20 U.S. military veterans commit suicide every day. As MPB's Desare Frazier reports promoting awareness can help reduce those numbers.

Military men and women are trained to be strong--asking for help can be considered a sign of weakness, according to Roger Sibley. He's with Combat Wounded Veterans of South Mississippi in Biloxi. The majority of veterans they serve returned from Iraq and Afghanistan with physical and mental disabilities. Sibley says many are struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and traumatic brain injuries. 

"And they're struggling making their rent, paying their bills, holding jobs. There's just a whole list of things going on with them," said Sibley

Sibley says the list can include trouble sleeping, acting violently and abusing drugs and alcohol. He says his son returned from Iraq and began acting out of character--abusing alcohol. After two months of medical care and counseling Sibley's son is doing fine. He says nationwide, every day, 22 veterans commit suicide. The VA Medical Center in Jackson, reports treating two veterans who later committed suicide in 2015 and one so far this year. Numbers for the state are hard to track because many won't ask for help. Patricia Lane is Chief of Social Work at the medical center. She says some who seek help don't follow their treatment plan.

"Often when we need the most help is when we choose to avoid it. A lot of what we do is to try to continuously stay engaged with those patients. But that patient's level of engagement is still ultimately their choice unfortunately," said Lane.

Saturday the Tupelo community will take part in a 22-mile hike to raise awareness about the problem of veteran suicide.