September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, so Veterans Administrations at the state and federal level are taking an assertive stance to address this difficult issue in Maine.

Sadly, in 2017, 48 veterans were lost to suicide; 32 of them used firearms as their lethal means.

The Maine Safer Homes Taskforce has been created from the Maine Bureau of Veterans Services. Its goal is to combat the issue of Maine’s suicide rate, which is the highest in the northeast. The focus of the task force is gun safety and storage information, as well as providing resources for those who could use support.

On the national stage, the Veterans Administration is reminding veterans to continue the standards of training, safety and accountability with regard to firearms. There is an increase in awareness of the role of firearms with suicide and having firearms in the home. In a recent newsletter addressing suicide prevention was a link to a YouTube video titled, “The Veterans Crisis Line: Firearms Safety.” It starts with “Many veterans are well versed in firearm safety but that doesn’t mean their families are.”

Also helping with prevention are Maine American Legion and Auxiliary posts and units that reach out to fellow veterans; and the Maine Gun Safety Coalition, that works with town police departments for a gun give-back program.

Maine has a large veteran population and they are held in high regard. Let’s continue to support our veterans and back the organizations that provide services to them.

Barbara Arsenault, Rumford

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