Wisconsin VA Hosts Suicide Prevention Summit | News

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) — The Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs hosted a summit at the La Crosse Center on Wednesday to educate veterans and their families on a handful of topics, including suicide prevention and awareness.

“Combating Veteran Suicide” is a statewide forum and La Crosse is the second of six stops on the tour. The WDVA has shared information and expert resources on what could be a major issue for former soldiers.

Department secretary Mary Kolar hopes that some misconceptions about seeking help can be dispelled through such discussions.

“Over 70% of suicides that occur in Wisconsin are from weapons,” Kolar said. “Guns if you will. But there are ways to help people just slow down that thought process. That we’re not saying we’re going to take your gun away from you. We’re saying we want to help you with safety of this weapon for you, the veteran, family members and others.

Among the segments taught at the event was “Question, Persuasion, Refer Training” featuring department supervisor Cal Stammer, aimed at prompting veterans to ask tough questions before any potential self-harm is inflicted.

“One veteran a day is too many,” Stammer said. “He’s one more human being not on this earth. Suicide is the most preventable form of death in the world. It’s something we can do as the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs. It’s giving these people those tools in their tool belt to use personally and professionally once they leave those forums and summits.

Stammer adds that an average of 17 to 22 veterans commit suicide every day.

Other topics discussed at the summit included homelessness, sexual assault, and LGBTQ+ inclusivity within the military.

Dates and locations for other summits include:

  • May 10 at the Lake of Torches Casino Resort in Lac du Flambeau
  • May 18 at the Jefferson Street Inn in Wausau
  • June 13 at the Brookfield Conference Center in Milwaukee

Another summit is scheduled for June in Madison. The date and location are still pending.

Click here for more information from the WDVA on suicide prevention and other topics from Wednesday’s summit.

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