Governor J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Human Services announced yesterday that the would be joining the Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide, a national effort that provides mental health support and preventative services to the nation’s military veterans.
The state is dedicating $2 million to the initiative, in partnership with the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Illinois Department of Veteran Affairs.
IDHS Spokesperson Marisa Kollias says the money will be used for critical support and preventative services: “This funding is an opportunity to really increase the resources for suicide prevention targeted at those most impacted by mental health illness, with the specific focus on communities of color and the military community. We are really looking forward to just contributing where we can to our veterans, who are such a critical community that we serve across the state. Our veterans are our heroes who have been so brave and really deserve the quality care here at home.”
Last year in the State of Illinois, suicide was the 12th leading cause of death among Illinois residents of all ages, but the 3rd leading cause of death for those aged 1-24. Illinois becomes the latest of 27 states to join the challenge. According to data obtained from the VA, Illinois had 168 veteran suicides in 2017. Suicide rates were 1.5 times greater in veterans rather than non-veterans, according to the United Health Foundation.
If you are a veteran and need help, you can call 1-877-222-VETS to find the right resources to help meet your needs through the VA or you can call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK.