Suicide in Mishawaka VA parking lot puts spotlight on veteran mental health crisis


    Police investigate a suicide in the parking lot of Mishawaka's VA health clinic // WSBT 22 photo <p>{/p}

    A veteran shot himself yesterday in the parking lot of the VA Health Care Center in Mishawaka -- dead from an apparent suicide.

    We often don't report suicide, but this is not about drawing attention to an individual. Rather, we are hoping to raise awareness and help people who are struggling.

    This is an issue that impacts people and families every day.

    In our country, 22 veterans commit suicide every day. That's one every 65 minutes.

    One local vet says that's one too many, and that's why it's important to know that there are services in our area that can help.

    Kent Laudeman, a Vietnam veteran, knows firsthand what's it's like being exposed to situations that can contribute to mental health issues.

    “In the service when you’re deployed, I don’t care if you’re a transporter of anything like that, you’re going to experience things you never thought you would experience in your life,” said Laudeman.

    When he returned home after the war, he had a family and found work. He says he's one of the lucky ones.

    “When you’re by yourself you can get pulled back in to those negative kinds of experiences, and that’s what’s going to contribute to someone spiraling down having thoughts of suicide,” said Laudeman.

    Laudeman says while some people can handle being back, others can't.

    “I think veterans unfortunately, men and women, have been exposed to situations that they think they should be tough and be able to handle it,” said Laudeman. “In many cases you need to express that in a group kind of way, in a therapist kind of way.”

    He says veterans shouldn't be afraid to ask for help, and relatives, friends, and even strangers should recognize when things don't seem right.

    “What’s wrong with saying, ‘Hey how are you feeling? Is something bothering you? Can I help you?’” said Laudeman. “There’s nothing wrong with asking that question. I think that little question may break the ice.”

    He says that the first step and by talking to someone and you could start to move forward.

    Again, if you or someone you know is suffering from PTSD, depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues, don't be afraid to ask for help.

    You can contact the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1. Click here for the website.

    Click here for the The Robert L. Miller Senior Center website, and here for the St. Joseph County VA Health Care Center.

    The Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You can also click here for the online chat function to speak to someone instantly.

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