INDIANAPOLIS (WANE) One hundred thirty-six. The Department of Veterans Affairs said that is now many Indiana veterans committed suicide in 2014.
On Monday, U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana spoke about a law that is helping to save more lives.
It was a terribly dark night in 2009 for 21-year-old Jacob Sexton. He was home in Indiana, on leave with the National Guard, after serving in Afghanistan.
Jeff Sexton, Jacob’s father, said that “things got a little too tough for him. He’d seen too many things, too many children get killed.”
In a split-second, Jeff Sexton’s son, Jacob, took his own life.
Jeff Sexton explained earnestly, “It destroyed me. It destroyed my wife.”
Signed into law in 2014, the Jacob Sexton Military Suicide Prevention Act requires an annual health assessment for every military service member. Over the last two years, the Indiana National Guard has worked to implement the law.
Now that the law is fully in effect, and more than 13,000 Guard members will be screened every year.
Major Scott Edwards, Chief Behavioral Sciences Officer with the Indiana National Guard, explained, “When the service member reports some sort of mental health trouble, we have on the ground at each event, trained mental health service providers to come right alongside those service members and being to help. Then we watch and follow them all the way through the recover process.”
Donnelly created the law, and said it tackles issues like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at home.
Donnelly explained, “Many of them have had 2, 3, 4, 5 tours and are almost more comfortable overseas than when they come back home. Our job is to make sure everything is squared away.”
Monday morning, Indiana’s National Guard officials said on average, they lose 3-7 soldiers a year to suicide.
Sexton said he hopes this law shatters the stigma in the Military of even just asking for help with emotional issues or mental health.
Jeff Sexton explained, “As a veteran myself, I knew back then that you just bucked up and ate it. You kept your feelings to yourself. We can’t do that any longer.”
Sexton feels like this law could’ve helped save his son.
If you are a member of the military, and need help or resources:
Veterans Crisis line: call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1 or visit veteranscrisisline.net
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: call 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org
US Department of Veterans Affairs Suicide Prevention: visit mentalhealth.va.gov/suicide_prevention