LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Troubling numbers show veterans are at a much higher risk when it comes to suicide.

The transition back into society is not easy for veterans, to the point where some take their own lives.

Community members and veterans gathered in Lansing on Wednesday to talk about how to keep veterans away from making this decision.   

in 2022, more than 6,000 veterans died by suicide in the United States.

During Wednesday’s conference, organized by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, veterans spoke about their personal experiences with mental health and suicide.

Veteran and VFW Michigan Health Director Douglas Brinker recalls his mental health after serving — attempting suicide twice.

“Aug. 7, 1999, I decided life wasn’t worth living no more, and that’s when my first attempt occurred,” Brinker said.

He joined the military hoping to find his tribe, but rather he found bullies.

“It just compounded more and more, where to the fact that I kind of lost really a reason, so to speak,” Brinker said.

Recent studies show suicide rates for veterans are more than 50% higher than non-veterans.

“We do a great job in America taking care of our health from the neck down, but we don’t do such a great job from the neck up and that’s where we need to change,” said Ian Perry, Veterans and Military Relations Chair for the AFSP Michigan Chapter.

Wednesday at the Hannah Community Center, mental health and the stigma surrounding it was discussed.

Brinker reminds veterans there are many resources available to help.

“It’s OK not to be OK. But it’s important for all of us to know that there is hope — helping one person every day and that you do matter always,” Brinker said.

“We say talk saves lives and it’s statistically shown that is true. If you say, ‘Hey are you thinking about suicide?’ Believe it or not, it’s opening that door to the individual that maybe had been contemplating,” Perry said. “That little voice in their head may be like, ‘Oh, this guy gets me. Yeah, I can talk about this.’ That’s where you make that connection.”

Whether you’re a veteran or not, if you’re considering suicide — help is just a phone call away.

Just dial three digits: 9-8-8. You’ll have someone to talk to who can find resources to help you carry on.