A Connecticut state trooper assumed the role of a distressed veteran’s guardian angel when he met the troubled man off of an interstate highway.
Trooper Kyle Kaelberer was patrolling the I-84 highway earlier this month when he saw a truck activate its hazard lights near an off-ramp, according to CT Insider.
Kaelberer encountered a driver who was severely distressed and crying when he made contact.
“Help me… I’m on the phone with the VA hotline for suicide,” the driver said.
The officer kept his cool in what could’ve been a dangerous situation — for the driver, of his own devices.
The Connecticut State Police shared bodycam footage of the fateful interaction between the trooper and the veteran.
The trooper asked the distressed veteran if he’d deployed during his military career. The driver had.
“Hey, dude, it’s a tough time for everyone in your position. Relax, though. Hey, I am here with you, OK?”
The trooper embraced the distressed man, having called an ambulance for him earlier, assuring the man it would be paid for by the state of Connecticut.
Suicide rates remain an acute crisis for active duty military personnel, reservists, and veterans who have left the service, according to Fox News.
Active-duty Army soldiers suffered a high suicide rate of 36.18 suicide deaths per 100,000 soldiers in 2021, according to Army Times. That’s the highest rate of suicide in the branch since 1938, when the rate was 40 per 100,000, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The rate went down during World War II, with a low of 5 per 100,000 in 1945, JAMA reported. Between 1946 and 2005, active-duty Army personnel committed suicide at a rate of between 10 and 15 per 100,000, according to JAMA, with a “spike” of 18 per 100,000 in 1975. Since 2005, however, they have been rising, according to JAMA.
The coronavirus pandemic worsened suicide rates. Factors such as lengthy deployments are also thought to play a role in elevated military suicide rates.
The broader American public has a suicide death rate of 18 per 100,000, according to Fox. That’s less than half of the suicide rate of the Army.
Resources are available to individuals facing a mental health crisis.
The VA’s Veterans Crisis Line is accessible through dialing (800) 273-8255. Similar resources to available to anyone through dialing or texting the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988.
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