Service and Sacrifice: Suicide Warning Signs

Emily Hager, A Navy veteran in East Tennessee who lost her military husband to suicide is sharing their story in an effort to help families facing similar struggles. Emily is the Co-Chairwomen of the Knoxville Regional Veterans Mental Health Council, Chairwoman of Women Veterans Committee, Women Veteran Advocate for Vet to Vet Tennessee, Doctoral Candidate, University of Tennessee Knoxville and a QPR Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper instructor.

A happy beginning with her Navy husband turned tragic for Emily.

“As time progressed, I realized he was isolating himself…wouldn’t really reach out to friends that he had,” recalled Ms. Hager about her husband Kevin who took his own life three years ago.

“It wasn’t as painful at first, it was just anger,” said Ms. Hager about how she remembers the early stages of her grief.

The most recent numbers from the Department of Veterans Affairs suggest suicides among military veterans amount to almost 20 every day.  That is close to 22 percent higher than adults who haven’t served in the military.  Those statistics are a couple of years old but leaders at the VA continue to identify “suicide prevention” as a top priority.

“I want people to know that they’re not alone. There was a point when I wanted to take my own life and I had a child. I don’t want people to be at that place and feel that alone,” said Ms. Hager who is also a Navy veteran.

She is now devoting much of her time and energy to reaching out to fellow veterans and their families in crisis by serving as the Co-Chair of the Knoxville Regional Veterans Mental Health Council and Vet to Vet Tennessee

“The more that I talk to somebody and share what has happened to me and can maybe give them hope, that’s the most peace that I’ll get is giving other people hope,” said Ms. Hager.

You can reach someone 24/7 via the crisis line:  1-800-273-8255 and press 1.  You can also text 838255.

If you would like to learn more about how to stop suicide click here.

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