Army Suicide Prevention: Faith and Counseling Help

By Penny Monetti:

Military life presents unique marital challenges for the warrior and his or her family in an already stress-ridden society, but many army suicide casualties can be prevented.


Called to Serve, by Penny and Tony Monettii offers encouragement to soldiers and their families.

Called to Serve, by Penny and Tony Monettii offers encouragement to soldiers and their families.

My family looked forward to attending my son’s first Army Christmas party this last December. After 24 years as an Air Force pilot’s spouse, I was looking forward to observing a different military branch, meeting my son’s Army unit, and being the party guest instead of the party planner.

It was time to relax. During our military years, I helped organize holiday parties: From bases spanning from America’s heartland to the deep South. From New York to California’s coast. All the way to bases located in Europe. For weeks, my son, Antonio, verified that no commitments or unexpected time conflicts would interfere with us attending his first Army holiday gathering. He was excited that his dad, a B-2 stealth bomber pilot, would meet his fellow Army reservists and commanders.

When we pulled into the base parking lot for the awaited festive day, Antonio met us with apprehension. His normal ruddy complexion was ghostly pale, and he had a forlorn look that will be forever ingrained in my memory. He shared the devastating news.

Someone at the base had taken his own life just the day before.

Unfortunately, this military unit’s suicide is not an isolated incident. A 2010 report indicated that an average of eighteen military veterans committed suicide daily (Maize, 2010). The number of suicides among US Army active duty and Reserve personnel in 2012 was higher than the total combined military fatalities from Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan over the same time frame (Burke, 2012).

Military life presents unique marital challenges for the warrior and his or her family in an already stress-ridden society, such as: Deployments, dangerous missions, reintegration into family, civilian, and college life after separations, numerous relocations, and post-traumatic stress to name a few. Depression can be the fall out from any of these challenges.

Unless you’ve experienced the darkness of depression, you cannot relate to its vice-like grip it seemingly holds on the afflicted person’s life, whether you are affiliated with the military or a civilian.

If you or someone you know has expressed suicidal thoughts, do not ignore the warning signs, hoping they will disappear on their own. Seek immediate professional guidance, but before locating help, submit your challenges to the Lord and ask for His guidance to finding counsel. Know that before you begin this journey you are not alone:

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9.

Depression is a very real enemy, but the Lord reassures us:

“The one who is in you  (The Holy Spirit) is greater than the one (Satan) who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4.

The Lord further strengthens us with the promise:

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart because I have overcome the world.” 1 John 16:33.

Notice that the Lord makes clear that the indwelling spirit triumphs over evil. So how do we get this internal protector to abide within us?

It’s actually extremely simple. We invite the Lord into our lives by confessing that we are sinners and believing that Jesus is the Son of God, He died on the cross, and rose from the dead to save us from our own sins. This belief assures us eternal life in heaven.

What have you got to lose? Perhaps you don’t buy into the whole Jesus will save me if I say those words idea, but you long to. You can take comfort knowing that you are not alone in your doubt. Some of the Biblical “greats” struggled to believe God’s promises, as well. John the Baptist, who fiercely preached that Jesus was the Messiah, doubted his own declaration when he was at his lowest.

While imprisoned in the foul atmosphere of a dark gloomy dungeon fortress tucked within the savage cliffs of Moab, John doubted Christ as the true Messiah. John, who formerly held the firmest convictions that Jesus Christ was the true Savior, wavered in His conviction. After all, Jesus was not performing as John expected. This prophet was not axing the trees, winnowing the field, and judging the unrighteous. He was gentle of spirit, humble, and forgiving. So he asked two disciples to simply ask Jesus if he were truly the Messiah or should they expect another.

Instead of rendering a yes or no answer, Jesus asked the disciples to convey to John the awesome wonders that they witnessed: The blind could now see. The lame could walk. Leper’s infected flesh was cleansed.  The down trodden were uplifted. Jesus then continued to praise John. He didn’t ridicule him for his doubt, but explained those doing God’s work would be persecuted whether they dined with tax collectors or ate locusts from the land.

If you doubt God’s power and feel God has not lived up to your expectations, you are in good company; however, get ready, because once you invite God into your heart and submit your challenges to Him, you will be spiritually awakened, shaken, and claimed as God’s adopted child. You will begin to experience that God works all things for His purpose in your life, even the bad stuff. (Romans 8:28)

Sinking to a low point in life can cause doubt in Christ and imprison you in the wretched pit of depression’s confinement. If this depression remains unaddressed, it can lead to suicide, but once you acknowledge your doubts, confess them to God, and make healing your new mission, there is nothing that can stop the restoration process. Roman 8: 38-39 promises:

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons neither the present nor the future, nor any powers neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Remember, you are not alone. God is waiting for you to reach out to Him from your place of despair where the enemy is holding you captive.

“He reached down from on high and took hold of me; He drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy.”  Psalm 18: 16-17.

There are some great military sources to help you or your loved one overcome depression. Military OneSource provides FREE online counseling and will pay for 12 counseling visits that will not transferred to military health records. Focus on the Family will help you  find a Christian counselor in your area:

To get immediate help, call the Military Crisis Line at 800-273-8255 and press 1, or chat online now for 24/7 access to trained counselors. is another organization to help military veterans combat this very real enemy.


Army Suicides on the Rise

By Karen O’Connor:

While waiting for my plane in the Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, Kentucky I picked up a copy of USA Today and was startled by a headline that indicated that Army suicides are on the rise

According to reporter Gregg Zoroya, “Soldiers killed themselves at a rate faster than one per day in July, the Army announced Thursday. There were 38 deaths either confirmed or suspected as suicides, the highest one-month tally in recent Army history, the service said.”

Suicides now claim more soldiers than death in combat or vehicle accidents. In the past, younger soldiers were more vulnerable but that pattern seems to be changing. Veterans are now taking their own lives. What can be done to reverse this terrible trend?

Gen. Ray Odierno, Army chief of staff, stated that the answer, in part, lies with other soldiers who can make a difference by reaching out to help a troubled friend. When peers begin seeing the problem in one another and step forward to talk to those in danger, things can change for the better.

According to a report from Robert Burns, AP National Security Writer, in an article for a Fox News station“Suicide is the toughest enemy I have faced in my 37 years in the Army,” said Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, the Army’s vice chief of staff, who is spearheading his service’s efforts to find ways to halt the surge in suicides.

“That said, I do believe suicide is preventable,” Austin added. “To combat it effectively will require sophisticated solutions aimed at helping individuals to build resiliency and strengthen their life coping skills.”

One faith-based organization,, as quoted on, provides resources for families facing the threat of military suicide. “We at were shocked and dismayed to discover the extent of the suicide epidemic in our nation’s military. We extend our thoughts and prayers to those affected by the military’s most seditious enemy, suicide. But these statistics are not just the military’s problem, to be addressed by military experts and military psychiatrists.

“Rather, churches, community organizations, and non-profits need to proactively respond to the epidemic of suicide in our nation’s military. We, the members of these soldiers’ communities, need to be ready to reach out to soldiers returning from war, aware of the multifaceted enemies they may be facing—whether spiritually, emotionally, or psychologically.

“ believes that churches and community organizations cannot afford to be left out of the equation for healing our nation’s warriors, and we stand with our valiant soldiers.”

If you or someone you know in uniform has shared thoughts of suicide, encourage him or her to talk to you about it and to call the Military suicide hotline: 800-273-8255 for professional help so that army suicides now on the rise will turn in the other direction.

Check out this excellent YouTube video on how to help prevent military suicides.


Hope for Military Veterans with PTSD: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

By Karen Boerger:

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is Real! There is help and hope for military veterans with PTSD.


Image by Stuart Miles (

I recently heard a presentation by a Major in the Army Reserves (retired), who told her story about her military career.  After her tours of duty in the Middle East, she realized that she didn’t feel that she fit in with family and friends any more, thought about committing suicide, but went back for one more tour of duty.  She was injured and had to go stateside for recovery.

While recuperating in the hospitals, she began to see that there was a purpose in her life.  After much counseling from a pastor, she went for training and is now helping military veterans and their families.  Sometimes when we are at our lowest, we find God right beside us.

PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) is a very real problem in the military.   The following are some recent statistics:

  1. There are 18 suicides a day.
  2. To seek help for depression or PTSD  (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) while serving in the military, there is a 400-day wait to get in.
  3. When a military person receives a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), it’s found that they are 20% more likely to die from suicide.
  4. One soldier dies every 24 hrs. – not from combat.

There is help for PTSD. Medication and counseling are very effective. If you have had a traumatic event, don’t despair. Seek guidance from a counselor, psychiatrist, or doctor and stay in touch with your pastor.  Healing takes time but can be achieved.

The National Veterans’ Suicide Prevention Hotline is a valuable tool for veterans.  Watch this video to see how important this hotline is to the veterans. For help call 1-800-273-TALK, then press “1” to be routed to the Veterans Suicide Prevention Hotline.  This free service handles about 330 calls per day and has a staff of about 20. Call and talk to someone who understands veterans with PTSD.


Survival Tips for Returning Veterans

  Are you one of those looking for survival tips for returning veterans?  So was Jeff, who said:

“You don’t know what it was like for me when I returned to the states after being in Afghanistan. My wife had left me, my children called another man daddy, and my relatives lived their lives as if they were guests on Jerry Springer.  Then, with my PTSD, it took me months before I could shop in a Wal-Mart without wanting to run out screaming.”

“Did you think about suicide?” I asked.

“A lot.”

“What got you through it?”

“Only God.”

“What would you say to other struggling vets?”

“I can’t promise that it will be easy, but when you live through it, you’ll be stronger for it. That’s how you’ll prove to everyone you can make it.”

Are you feeling suicidal after returning from a term of military service?


According to the Make the Connection website, there are some additional tips to help you survive your return home:

  • Reach out to other Veterans or Veterans’ groups for social support
  • Exercise regularly and eat healthy meals
  • Practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing
  • Recognize that others may not always agree with you or understand your military service; agree to disagree
  • Be prepared for insensitive questions or topics of conversation; practice how to respond ahead of time
  • Respectfully decline to talk about things that make you uncomfortable
  • Have a plan of action for your adjustment that includes a list of goals for your transition, your future, and your personal life
  • Try to get a good night’s sleep
  • Avoid unhealthy “quick fixes” that you think may help you cope, like drinking alcohol, taking drugs, or smoking cigarettes.

If you or someone you know is suicidal, see Make the Connection  for more tips.

Listen to other vets talk about the difficulties of transitioning into civilian life in this YouTube video below:

You might also be interested in the comprehensive 600 plus page PDF book, The American Veteran’s and Service Members Survival Guide – How to Cut Through the Bureaucracy and Get What You Need—And Are Entitled To – from the Veterans of America. Click HERE to download a free copy.

PLEASE NOTE: If you are a vet who is depressed or in danger of harming yourself or others, contact Veteran’s Crisis Line or call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online, or send a text message to 838255 to receive confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

If you want to find out how to reach out to God, click HERE:

Depression and Suicide Risk for Veterans

By Linda Evans Shepherd

If you are concerned about a military veteran in your life, you need to know more about depression and suicide risk for veterans.

According to the Veteran’s Crisis Line, there are several depression and suicide indicators including: 1.) Feeling sad most of the time; 2.) Trouble eating or sleeping; 3.) Feeling anxious or  agitated; 4.) Neglecting personal welfare; 4.) Deteriorating physical appearance; 5.) Withdrawing from friends, family, and society; 6.) Sleeping all the time; 7.) Losing interest in things they once cared about like  hobbies, work, or school; 8.) Frequent and dramatic mood changes; 9.) Expressing feelings of excessive guilt or shame; 10.) Feelings of failure or decreased performance; 11.) Feeling that life is not worth living; 12.) No sense of purpose; and 13.) Feeling desperate, like there is no solution or  way out of their problems.

Additional suicidal indicators from the Veteran’s Crisis Line include:

  • Performing poorly at work or school
  • Acting recklessly or engaging in risky activities—seemingly without thinking
  • Showing violent behavior such as punching holes in walls
  • Getting into fights or self-destructive violence
  • Feeling rage or uncontrolled anger or seeking revenge
  • Tempting fate by taking risks that could lead to death
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Putting affairs in order or making out a will
  • Seeking access to firearms, pills, or other means of harming oneself
If reading these lists has heightened your concerns, Web MD suggests that, “You can take steps to prevent a suicide attempt. Be willing to listen, and help the person find help. Don’t be afraid to ask “What is the matter?” or bring up the subject of suicide. There is no evidence that talking about suicide leads to suicidal thinking or suicide. Remove all firearms from the home, or lock firearms and bullets up in different places. Get rid of any prescription and nonprescription medicines that are not being used.”

The Veteran’s Crisis Line suggests, “If you are a Veteran or know a Veteran who is showing any of the above warning signs, please call the Veterans Crisis Line by calling call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, or  chat online , or send a text message today to  838255.”

To learn more about depression and suicide risk for veterans, and find out what to do, watch:

The Veteran’s Crisis Line is open to receive confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.


Help for Suicidal Veterans

By Linda Evans Shepherd

If you are a struggling veteran, you don’t have to struggle alone.  The VA’s Veteran’s Crisis Line has answered more than half-a-million calls made from veterans of all ages and circumstances.

Many of the responders are veterans themselves and understand what military servicemen and women, and their families and friends, have been through and the challenges veterans of all ages and service areas face.

In addition they have created a series of videos that encourage veterans to call, including the one below:

Help for Suicidal Veterans

PLEASE NOTE: If you are a vet who is depressed or in danger of harming yourself or others, contact Veteran’s Crisis Line or call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online, or send a text message to 838255 to receive confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Please comment here to let us know what you think of the video.

Dogs Help Stop Suicide in Military Veterans

By Linda Evans Shepherd

Dogs Help Stop Suicide in Military Veterans

Many of our veterans are returning home with Post Traumatic Stress (PTSD) and are in danger of losing their lives to suicide.  So, could it be that a wagging tail could help stem the tide of this heartbreaking loss of life?  Yes. Dogs help stop suicide in military veterans. According to Web MD, pets have the power to improve mood and to provide unconditional love.

Alan Entin, PhD, a psychologist in Richmond, Va is quoted in the Web MD article saying,

“Dogs, in particular, are always glad to see you,” he notes. “When you are feeling down and out, the puppy just starts licking you, being with you, saying with his eyes, ‘You are the greatest.’ When an animal is giving you that kind of attention, you can’t help but respond by improving your mood and playing with it.”

Entin added, “Having a pet takes the focus off the owner’s problems, Entin says, since having a pet is a commitment–you need to feed and care for the pet. “When people have a pet in the house, it forces them to take care of another life,” Entin says. With the focus outward, he says, the pet owner may not dwell on their depressed mood as much.”

Vets adopting pets is a great solution for the animals too as 6 to 8 million dogs and cats are euthanized every year, simply because they need a home.

To see the power of a dog in a vet’s life, check out the video below:

Video of How Dogs Help Stop Suicide in Military Veterans

Pets can be found in shelters and can even be what the doctor orders via prescription.  Also organizations exists, like Pets for Vets, to help military veterans reclaim normalcy in their lives through companion dogs.

PLEASE NOTE: If you are a vet who is depressed or in danger of harming yourself or others, contact Veteran’s Crisis Line or call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online, or send a text message to 838255 to receive confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

See related article, Finding God Through Your Dog from Finding God Daily.