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Day of action focuses on CT undocumented's healthcare needs; 7 jurors seated in first Trump criminal trial; ND looks to ease 'upskill' obstacles for former college students; Black Maternal Health Week ends, health disparities persist.

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Seven jury members were seated in Trump's hush money case. House Speaker Johnson could lose his job over Ukraine aid. And the SCOTUS heard oral arguments in a case that could undo charges for January 6th rioters.

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Fears grow that low-income folks living in USDA housing could be forced out, North Carolina's small and Black-owned farms are helped by new wind and solar revenues, and small towns are eligible for grants to boost civic participation..

CT mental-health pros seek ways to reduce veteran suicides

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Thursday, February 22, 2024   

Connecticut and U.S. mental health professionals are working to address suicide among military veterans.

Research shows a 95% increase in veteran suicides nationally between 2001 and 2020, peaking in 2018. In Connecticut, recent data is trending lower than previous years.

Experts say social isolation in the COVID pandemic was responsible for some of the nationwide increase.

Dr. Joshua Bullock, a psychologist for the Department of Veterans Affairs of Connecticut, said difficult individual experiences can take their toll as well.

"Oftentimes, PTSD can kind of lead to sometimes a sense of alienation from others, difficulty kind of feeling safe in the world," Bullock explained. "You can imagine, sort of living day-to-day feels unsafe if one is perceiving threats or danger."

Along with programs at area hospitals, Bullock pointed to psychosocial work as an important step in helping veterans adjust to life after deployment. The Department of Veterans Affairs has federal grants available for community-based suicide prevention efforts.

Anyone in crisis or having suicidal thoughts can call 988, then press '1' for the Veterans Crisis Line.

Challenges persist to accessing care, including a lack of mental health professionals in many areas, as well as personal and social attitudes about accepting this care.

Bullock acknowledged misconceptions about veterans' mental health linger, particularly that their lives are devoid of hope.

"What I've learned about veterans who are experiencing these challenges and struggles, from working with them for pretty much my entire career, is that they're amazingly resilient," Bullock emphasized. "Many of these veterans experience significant recovery from mental illness; live meaningful, valued lives."

Bullock noted peer specialists -- veterans who have received treatment -- are helping newcomers understand the importance of getting help when they need it.


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