Veteran Suicide Rate Rises

An alarming number of area veterans are finding the mental effects of war too tough to deal with, and they are choosing to commit suicide.

Over the past year, so many veterans have chosen to end their own life that the VA Hospital in Amarillo started a suicide prevention program. "You have to keep your head held high, put your pride aside and seek help."

James Walker just returned from Afghanistan two months ago. He suffers from severe post traumatic stress disorder and is currently taking medicine to help him from making the unfortunate decision so many other vets have made.

Suicide Prevention Coordinator Rita Salvador says, "We've had two veterans commit suicide and twelve attempt to commit suicide, and that's just in the last quarter." James says he's not shocked at those numbers. "You just have to adjust the best you can." And often, those who cannot adjust are afraid to ask for help.

Rosa Roberts is a US Army Veterans. She says, "People don't want to believe they are depressed." Walker agrees, saying, "Unfortunately in the military it's seen as a sign of weakness."

Monday, January 5th kicks off the national VA Suicide Prevention campaign, something the local VA hospital says they hope will encourage others to follow in James' footsteps and admit they need help...before it's too late.

Surprisngly, it's not just the young vets who are affected. The VA says they see everyone from eighteen year olds just back from Iraq to elderly world war two vets.