22-mile hike for veterans: VA reports Colorado veteran suicide rate higher than national average

Military Matters

EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. — The Veteran suicide rate in Colorado is higher than the state’s suicide rate among citizens.

The Veteran suicide rate in Colorado was significantly higher than the national Veteran suicide rate and significantly higher than the national general population suicide rate.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released this month the 2020 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report, which found no significant increases in the Veteran suicide rate from 2017-2018, average suicide deaths per day, or total count of Veteran suicides.

>> Tap here to see Colorado’s 2018 report.

The report includes analyses of Veteran suicide from 2005-2018 and findings from ongoing monitoring of VA health system suicide-related indicators during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Sunday morning about a dozen veterans walked 22 miles in memory of the symbolic 22 veterans a day that complete suicide.

The walk had several pit stops to hikers could warm up and have a snack.

The group walked from Larkspur to Colorado Springs.

Christopher Ruble, from 22 until None, walking for someone he worked with.

“I’m walking for Aaron Morency. We lost him a Sept 14 this year. A lot of the people out here hiking, are from our medical clinic at Schriever Airforce base, that he was part of our family,” said Ruble. “All in honor of those who can’t hike with us because they lost their battle with their own demons in their mind.”

Many members carrying a burden of a fellow brother they couldn’t carry on their own.

“I did this walk last year with the group and really enjoyed it. It’s a worthy cause. We’re doing everything we can to support our vets. There is a lot of stress on people right now, with COVID. People are feeling lonely. We want to just bring attention to some of the mental health issues that veterans and everyone are facing,” said Marty France.

The long journey is worth the walk to raise awareness of veteran suicide.

“If means we have to hike this every weekend, just to get the world out. if it saves one life, we’ll do it,” said Ruble.

9-8-8 has been deemed the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline that will be active July 16, 2022.

 During the transition to 988, Americans who need help should continue to contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK) and through online chats

Veterans and Service members may reach the Veterans Crisis Line by pressing 1 after dialing, chatting online at www.veteranscrisisline.net, or texting 838255.

>> Tap here to see data from 2017.

Colorado Crisis Services Hotline (1-844-493-TALK): If you or someone you know is in crisis or needs help dealing with one, call this toll-free number 1-844-493-TALK (8255) or text TALK to 38255 to speak to a trained professional.

Chat services are also available from 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. daily at coloradocrisisservices.org

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