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, Followme.org, as quoted on redOrbit.com, provides resources for families facing the threat of military suicide. “We at followme.org 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.

“Followme.org 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 (FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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.

 

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.