Alabama’s Challenge gets funding aimed at preventing veteran suicides

Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 5:31 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The number of active-duty military suicide deaths is on the rise, and with the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and the 20th anniversary of 9/11 occurring, these events can be triggering for some veterans.

September is Suicide Awareness Month and a program called Alabama’s Challenge is being implemented by the state as it works to prevent veterans from taking their lives.

“It is a heavy subject,” admitted Paulette Risher, co-director of Alabama’s Challenge. “But there’s also hope. This is not a hopeless situation. We can do something about this.” s

The challenge is aimed specifically at helping those who have served in the military. Almost 18% of those who have died by suicide in Alabama are veterans, double the state’s veteran population of 9%.

Alabama’s Challenge focuses on finding where veterans live in the state, connecting them with one another, and promoting the safe storage of items used in suicide deaths.

Risher says Alabama’s Challenge has come a long way from being a piece of legislation, now receiving funding for their mission.

“It’s one thing to put pretty words on a page and to, you know, do a lot of hoopla. It makes it really a difference when you put money on it,” Risher said.

Using money allocated by the legislature, the Alabama Department of Veteran Affairs has hired an executive director for the program, Sissy Louise Moore. Risher hopes the funding will also help expand their marketing to reach more veterans

If you or someone you know has thoughts of suicide, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255.

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