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Sep 24, 2014 11:45 PM

Suicide in NH - How the NH National Guard is helping veterans


CONCORD - It's a taboo subject that not many people talk about and at the same time, it's a problem affecting countless families not only nationwide, but right here in New Hampshire.

Suicide continues to be a leading cause of death here in the Granite State and now state officials are offering high tech help to combat it.

In part one of our series (insert last night's link here), we introduced you to a man from Derry whose teenage son took his life.

In this part of our series, we investigate how the New Hampshire National Guard is getting the word out to help saves soldiers' lives.

As U.S. soldiers serve our country on the front lines and in the war zones, they don't know what to expect next.

They risk their lives on the battlefields but when some of them come back home, they are still at risk.

This time, the enemy for some is PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression. That, experts say, can lead to suicide.

Suicide is the leading cause of death for soldiers in the US military.

Recently, state health officials joined with the New Hampshire National Guard to highlight smart phone applications that are designed to help people, and in this case, soldiers, cope with their moods and feelings, instead of bottling them up.

"Some of them give you basic resiliency tests," said Staff Sgt. Robert Mignola of the New Hampshire National Guard. "Some of them help your track your mood over a period of time. Some of them just help you sit down and relax and realize that depression is part of your life."

The apps are intended to help soldiers like Sgt. Gustavo Blanco.

Blanco suffered in silence and then tried to kill himself.

"The night I guess was just a breaking point for me," Blanco said. "I decided something really bad, something really wrong with me. If I would have had the means, I would have taken my own life. It could have been worse. Thank God it wasn't."

It turns out Blanco would be one of the lucky ones and eventually get the help he needed.

"And it feels good to get rid of that feeling that you're getting rid of some of that stuff and it's never too late to talk to somebody," Blanco said.

It's never too late, experts say. They say even a simple app on a phone could save a life.

The army has designed an app called, "Operation Reach Out." It's free and meant for soldiers and their families as a way to help them spot the warning signs and to see if they need treatment.

» There are multiple updates to this story. Please click here to get the latest information.

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