Man who killed himself in police standoff was a military veteran

His family hopes his death will highlight the importance of mental health services for veterans.
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The man who died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound after a standoff with police near St. Cloud was a military veteran.

Rodolfo Alberto Gomez Jr., 44, of Sauk Rapids, died at a house in rural Minden Township, east of St. Cloud, on Sunday.

He was threatening to harm himself and others while wielding a firearm when the Benton County Sheriff's Office arrived.

When no contact could be made with him, a SWAT team went inside to find him dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

In an update on Monday, the sheriff's office said that Gomez was a military veteran, and "according to those closest to him, appeared to fall victim to an acute mental health crisis in the days and hours preceding his death."

His family, police say, "hopes that his passing serves as a reminder of the importance of mental health services for veterans experiencing crisis so that future tragedies may be prevented."

In 2016, the National Veterans Foundation wrote that 20 percent of the vets who served in either Iraq or Afghanistan suffered from either major depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Some 19.5 percent of those vets had suffered a traumatic brain injury during the course of their service, and between them these conditions "have an enormous impact on the demand for veteran mental health treatment."

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Some 2.1 million vets received mental health treatment between 2006 and 2010, however studies have shown that only half of returning vets will receive the mental health treatment that they need.

Barriers to treatment include long wait times, long distances to travel to access help, personal embarrassment or shame associated with seeking mental health help, and stigma associated with mental health issues.

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