10 Signs a Veteran May Be in Crisis – Suicide Prevention

Even as a civilian, you can still be of help preventing suicide by learning the signs a loved one or friend may be in crisis or at risk of taking their life.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline advises that many Veterans may not show any signs of intent to harm themselves before doing so, but you can be alert to signs that the Veteran may need help. Be aware of signs of depression, anxiety and hopelessness as well as dramatic changes in behavior.

Signs of a Veteran in Crisis Continue reading

Pentagon Reports Soldier Suicides Soar in July

More than once a day a soldier is suspected of killing himself according to the most recent data released by the Department of Defense. A total of 38 suicides are under investigation or confirmed in July.

Among active duty soldiers, there are 26 “potential” suicides, nine in the Army National Guard and three in the Army Reserve.

Time magazine reports that Army experts cannot account for the surge in suicides.

Retired Army colonel Elspeth Ritchie, once the service’s top psychiatrist and a key warrior fighting Army suicides, fears the toll won’t abate any time soon. “One of the risk factors for suicide is getting in trouble at work,” says Ritchie, now a Battleland contributor. “As the Army downsizes, the getting in trouble may translate into more soldiers facing discharge and possible unemployment,” she says. “Another risk factor is trouble with relationships. After a decade of war, going from having a spouse away most of the time — to being at home all the time — actually may make things worse. Especially if the spouse is underemployed.”

You can read more on the Time cover story- Grim Record: Soldier Suicides Research New High.
There is help for any family, veteran or active duty member:
  • Trained consultants are available 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Or visit website at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
  • Military One Source toll-free number 1-800-342-9647
  • Defense Center for Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury Outreach: 1-866-966-1020

If you need help or know someone who does – call one of the numbers above and talk.

Veterans Share Personal Stories for Suicide Prevention

Photo courtesy of DCoE website.

Personal stories are an effective way to illustrate an issue. September is “Suicide Prevention Awareness Month” and the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs made a call for veterans to tell their stories.

From the Defense Centers of Excellence, the following story is shared by Army veteran Micheal K. Strong. In May, he participated in the 2011 Warrior Games on the U.S. Paralympic Team.

My name is Micheal K. Strong, and I survived.

I don’t ever remember wanting to hurt myself. Although, looking back on everything, it was kind of hard to ignore the warning signs. I was even trained as the company suicide prevention NCO. I was always the soldier that had the “Suck it up, and drive on” mentality. That doesn’t always work or fit everyone.

I was becoming more reclusive and withdrawn. I had sought help through the chaplain, and I was feeling better. I remember feeling hopeless and not seeing anything in my future. On July 15, 2009 I shot myself through the face. I don’t remember doing it, but I can remember every detail when I came to from being knocked out, until they put me to sleep in the Emergency Room.

Looking back on everything now, I would have to say the most important thing in my life is perception. Life brings all different types of up and downs, but it is how we perceive situations. No matter how bad or how grim something seems, there is always a small sliver of hope… it is how we perceive the situation that makes it all seem hopeless.

I was a helicopter mechanic, and it shouldn’t have happened to me. I should have been more willing to seek the help I needed, the same help I was afraid would ruin my career or “black-ball” me. I realize now, life has countless things to offer and experience.

I was ultimately diagnosed with PTSD and severe depression. During my recovery and transition to medical retirement I discovered that I had a unique perspective on this issue, and I have since devoted myself to helping others get help and trying to break down the overwhelming stigma surrounding mental health that prevents so many from seeking help. Military members are expected to shoulder many hard and difficult things, and many sometimes haven’t yet learned how to deal with some of those things… just knowing that it is acceptable to ask for help or to open up and talk about it is very important.

Not every story will be published, however the Defense Centers of Excellence is accepting submissions through the end of September.  Click here to submit your story.

Submissions should be:

  • Free of personal identifiable information (please do not include real names in the story)
  • Written in a clear, conversational tone
  • Between 300 and 700 words in length
  • Comply with the DCoE comment policy

If you or someone you know are currently having thoughts of suicide, call 1-800-273-TALK, military community option 1.

The War at Home – A Spouse’s Poem

Photo from the Military with PTSD Facebook page.

Below is a poem from the Facebook group – Military with PTSD – a forum for veterans and spouses supporting each other. The site does not offer advice from health care professionals. But, the sentiments expressed are important for all to understand.

For health care professionals, readers should turn to the VA Center for PTSD or organizations such as the Wounded Warrior Project resiliency resources and Give an Hour, a non-profit which provides free mental health for military and their families effected by the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

My thanks to Cheyenne Forsythe for sharing this item and site. Unfortunately, the author was not noted.

 

Courtesy of the Military with PTSD Facebook group.

The War At Home

 

My children and I did not volunteer to go to war.

How could you not warn me the war was coming straight into our home?

I had no warning or instruction as to what to watch out for.

The soldier returned home and not my husband.

I got a little pamphlet explaining that most soldiers may have to readjust to being home.

I believed you and trusted you when you said that the readjustment period may take a few months but they should experience a successful transition back into the home.

Months turned into years and every time I would call for help I was brushed away.

I called for help because my home had turned into a battlefield.

Guns were being drawn and my children and I became the enemy.

We lived our life walking on eggshells out of fear.

For almost 5 years we lived in hell.

I had to use every ounce of strength I had to keep this family together.

My husband proudly served this country, and would gladly do it again if asked.

But when his family needed help, you allowed them to suffer for years.

We did not want money.  We wanted to have a normal life.

We would have had a chance if you would have been truthful.

If you would have told these soldiers families what to watch out for.

You should have told us about PTSD!

If you or a veteran you know is in need of immediate help: the Department of Veteran Affairs‘ 24 hour national suicide prevention hotline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). 

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