The Student Veteran Organization (SVO) hosted a suicide prevention awareness event on the Kay Granger Mall outside the library on campus on Tuesday, April 13 from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Graduate student Shirley Bravo, the president of the organization, said that 22 to 26 veterans commit suicide each day, and this number has increased due to COVID-19.
“We’re trying to raise awareness on that, not only for veterans, but for students too. On campuses, universities, that number is 15 to 22. Anybody that’s going through suicidal thoughts, struggling with depression, everything,” Bravo said.
Ambassadors from non-profit organizations Patriot Paws, Mission 22, Vets 4 Warriors and 22 Kill were in attendance, providing students with informational material about their purpose and willing to discuss various therapy options with students.
“Something we keep repeating today is that it’s not a one-size-fits-all, I mean, what helps you may not help her, what helps both of you may not help him. It’s finding whatever avenue to put them on to bring them together, with like-minded people, to show them that they’re not alone, that we’re all in this together,” said Justin Jones from 22 Kill.
Bravo said the event was originally meant to happen last year, and due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the event was cancelled at the time. When she called organizations back out to the event this year, some could not come back out.
“Because most of them, they’re still canceling events or not going out or [doing things] virtually, yeah, some people are still not [fully comfortable], but we’re thankful for the ones that came out today,” Bravo said.
At Patriot Paws, it takes two years to train service dogs that can help disabled American veterans nationwide, full-time veteran coordinator Zac Taylor said volunteers are welcome to support the organization in a variety of ways.
Former Student Veterans Organization president and current ambassador for Vets 4 Warriors, Jonathan Perkins said that their services offer veterans a 24/7 peer support with therapy and counselors.
“They do a lot of work on being there for veterans after hours. Most non-profits usually close down and go home, and they don’t have that extra time to give after they go home for the night,” Perkins said.
“Yes, it is a veteran event, but suicide is not just a one-person issue. You know, and as a therapist, myself, I have seen a lot,” Bravo added. “And we’re just trying to help raise awareness, you know, we’re here, you can come out and talk to us talk to anybody, we can refer you out.”