Combating veteran suicide in Maine

NOW: The Silhouette Project

A recent study conducted by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) shows that the Maine veteran suicide rate is slightly higher than the national rate of veteran suicides.

According to the study, tin 2014 the rate of Maine veteran suicides is 48.3 per 100,000 people. The national veteran suicide rate is 38.4 per 100,000 people.

Some Mainers have stepped up to combat the issue of veteran suicide. 

Linda LaJoie is one of those Mainers who has accepted the challenge. LaJoie lost her son, Senior Airman Dustin Hadfield, to suicide in December 2014. Hadfield was based in Maryland, and Alaska. He also served time in Afghanistan.

When he returned home, his mother says he was like a different person. LaJoie says he seemed depressed and wondered if his time in the service triggered a change in his mood.

"I would ask him and he would say 'you wont get it, you won't understand, or you don't want to.'"

This year, LaJoie started the Silhouette Project to raise awareness about veteran suicide. She displays silhouette cutouts of soldiers who have lost their lives to suicide. It represents the number of veterans who die by suicide each day nationwide.

Another organization aimed at helping struggling veterans is the Maine Veterans Project. Shawn Goodwin is the founder, and a veteran himself. Goodwin also sits on Congressman Poliquin's newly created Veterans Advisory Panel.

"I think the issues that this Veterans Advisory Panel are tackling go fathoms deeper to the actual source of the problem," Goodwin said.

In a statement to NEWS CENTER, Congressman Bruce Poliquin says the issue of veteran suicide in Maine "incredibly important."

The statement went on to read in part: 

"In Congress, I've pushed to make improvements to the critical Veteran Crisis Line and have discussed the matter in depth with members of my Veteran Advisory Panel."

Next month the Maine Vet Center will hold its first Military Veterans Symposium to discuss suicide prevention and awareness. This event takes place December 12 at The University of Southern Maine.

 

 

© 2017 WLBZ-TV


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