BOZEMAN — Montana State University, in collaboration with local nonprofit Warriors and Quiet Waters Foundation, will host a training on veteran suicide prevention at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 14, in Ballroom A of MSU’s Strand Union Building. The event is free and open to the public, and veterans are encouraged to attend.

The training is designed to give service members and veterans tools to intervene when their peers are at risk for suicide. According to WQW, 70% of veteran suicides are accomplished with firearms, and Montana has one of the five highest suicide rates in the country.

Event organizers say the training aims to save lives and prevent suicide by empowering veterans with the knowledge and skills to ask for help. 

To put on the event, MSU Veteran Services and WQW partnered with the Overwatch Project, a nonprofit that offers this training nationwide.

“The Overwatch Project’s training is vital to the work we do, because it is actionable and will spark change for a very real problem that affects veterans and their families,” said Joseph Schumacher, director of MSU Veteran Services.

Schumacher said the Overwatch Project brings the conversation about suicide and firearms into an environment veterans can trust: their relationship with their peers. This training teaches veterans to intervene with at-risk friends by asking to temporarily hold onto their guns or take other protective storage measures. The training will also cover ways that veterans can talk with fellow veterans and make plans for protective firearms storage measures when suicide is a risk.

The joint presentation will be co-led by Brian Gilman, chief executive officer of WQW and a retired Marine colonel, and Casey Woods, executive director of the Overwatch Project/FORGE.

“We partnered with the Overwatch Project and the MSU Veteran Support Center on this training because we believe that equipping veterans to have conversations about firearms when veterans are in crisis is one of the missing pieces in suicide prevention,” Gilman said. “I know veterans who likely would be alive today if someone had been equipped to talk about firearms at the right time.”

Free tickets for the event can be reserved at wqwf.org/justfknask.

This event is partnered with Warriors and Quiet WatersMSU Veteran ServicesMSU Health Partners Counseling and Psychological Services and the Overwatch Project.

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This story is available on the Web at: http://www.montana.edu/news/21430