EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) –There is an ongoing Veteran’s Suicide Crisis happening across the nation including in Texas. Experts say many different factors contribute to the suicide rates.
Derrick Lozzio, a veteran who owns Catch 22 peer support in El Paso said he has seen first hand the uptick in veteran suicides recently,
“We have too many of our brothers and sisters that are dying by suicide and I feel that there is not enough being done to address this crisis. I’ve seen an increase in suicide [through the] news regarding suicide and through my connections. And while El Paso is behind the rest of the county with the suicide rate, it is still happening, it is a serious issue”
According to Lozzio, quite a few factors play a part in the current crisis, including the stigma that comes along with asking for help.
“Mental health is the main factor, especially with the active duty service members. The veterans and military members are trained to get a job done and to not ask for help. It’s something inside of us that makes us think it’s weak if you ask for help. That stigma is something that we need to address.”
According to Dr. Sharmane Delgado Payne – The Clinic Director at the Steven A Cohen Military Family Clinic there has been an uptick or spick in anxiety, depression, and suicide. In fact, she says that 22 Veterans commit suicide each day.
A number that’s up from 17 a day in 2019. In addition, according to the latest data, the suicide rate for veterans is more than 50% higher than non-veterans and young troops are taking their own lives at double the rate of their civilian peers.
Lozzio contributes this to a combination of other factors as well, including the isolation veterans felt during the Covid shutdowns. He also pointed to the ‘political atmosphere’ and the ‘tragedy with Afghanistan.’
Furthermore, Lozzio said that often times it’s difficult for veterans to process what they’ve been through and what they’ve seen,
“Combat itself. The destruction of war. Seeing your buddy injured is real hard. When you’re in that situation you don’t have the time to really process it, you have to continue your job. There’s no time to process anything until they leave the military, then you start thinking back on what you saw. The very nature of being in the military, being away from your home and your family. You go through extensive training, you’re always prepared to do the job that the country asks you to do and when you leave the military there is no de-processing. There’s no un-training. I got out of the service myself in 1982 and I still look back at the things I saw and the things I’ve done. There is no way to unlearn.”
Lozzio says that many suffer with having a sense of purpose when they leave the military saying things in the civilian world don’t operate with the same type of structure or attention to detail. Oftentimes, he says, it seems as if a lot of companies in civilian life put profit above people.
Sense of purpose is one of the tough things, in the military, you’re trained to do a job as safely as possible, whether you operate a vehicle you’re taught to make sure that vehicle is in the best condition possible when you leave the military and get into the civilian sector but a lot of companies in civilian life their bottom life is to make a profit and sometimes its profit over people.
Lozzio and Dr. Payne want to remind people that there is help available, adding that money is not an issue.
“Here at the Cohen Clinic, your finances are never an issue. We will treat any veteran or family member that’s walking through the door whether they have the ability to pay or not pay.”
“If you are in immediate crisis please call the veterans’ crisis line. If you’re thinking about suicide, talk to someone. There are people like myself who will listen, we will not judge and we’ll help you get the resources you need. Suicide is a permanent answer to a temporary problem. There are ways to stop suicide”
Catch 22 Veterans Support Group: 915-206-9185
Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic – 915-320-1390