People rarely kill themselves impulsively - even if it seems that way to their friends and family that they leave behind.
Often people who die by suicide are ending a long history of tremendous pain that they kept hidden from the outside world. The latest statistics place Veteran suicide at 22 Veterans per day. We know this number is on the low side because in the official VA report Illinois, Texas and California were not included, and only data from 21 states was used.
In today's world with social media, upwards of 90% of suicidal people will post some type of social media post before they attempt suicide. They are actually asking for #HELP. If you come across a post dealing with a suicidal person, there are a few things you can do to help. First make contact, a quick note, a phone call if you know them, a gesture to show you realize they are suffering. If they are a Veteran, one great resource you can utilize is Movement22 an organization geared to assist Veterans in a dark place. This is a Veterans helping Veterans organization. You can find them on Instagram @22toomany.
It's hard, but important to withhold your emotions if you encounter a suicidal person; as angry, shocked, hurt and scared as you might be, this is not about you. If you ever find yourself in this situation there are three important things to remember:
2. Show you care
3. Give them hope
Veterans particularly struggle with the exposure to the unbelievable trauma of war. Often they suffer from PTSI, Post Traumatic Stress Injury (see blog post on PTSD), survivors remorse or incredible physical and mental pain. Veterans struggle with suicide more than the average public for two main reasons; first as humans we were not designed to reconcile the psychological trauma experienced during war. Second; the reality of reintegrating into civilian life after combat or injury is very difficult.
The hallmark sign a Veteran is moving in a dark direction is isolation. Once isolation begins the negative self-talk amps up and people think the best way to end their pain and suffering is to end their life. When you're alone and afraid suicide looks like your only option. Veterans are good at hiding their emotions and pain, while driving away family and friends with their increasingly erratic behavior.
Behavior is a function of beliefs, and war can scramble one's beliefs about the world and their purpose in it. How one responds to trauma is a function of their coping skills, childhood experiences, decision-making skills and support network. The key to moving forward is a good support network, improved decision making skills and increased coping skills.
To start the process of recovery, start with these 5 questions:
1. Write down on a piece of paper something you do really well.
2. Write down something you like to do.
3. Write down something positive from you past. (many Veterans struggle with this)
4. Write down something you've always wanted to do.
5. In 5 words or less, write down what you want the world to remember about you.
I specialize in teaching these classes to assist people dealing with the devastating affects of PTSI, Post Traumatic Stress Injury, aka PTSD.
If you feel you or someone you love struggles with the affects of PTSI, please check out our Breaking the Chains of Trauma Class.
And as always, if you found this helpful please share this article with your friends and family.
Trauma-related issues pose some of the greatest stumbling blocks to recovery for individuals struggling with day-to-day responsibilities. This program incorporates all of the key issues identified in SAMHSA’s Trauma-Informed Treatment Protocol. This 67 page program is for Veterans who suffer from a number of specific symptoms following a traumatic event in which death, serious injury or sexual violation occurred or was a real possibility. These include re-experiencing symptoms (such as recurrent dreams, flashbacks or intrusive images), avoidance symptoms (such as avoiding conversations about the event or people associated with the event, memory loss, etc.) as well as other problems such as sleep disturbance, irritability/anger problems, concentration difficulties, hypervigilance or hyperstartle. This program is for our distinguished Veterans, LEO, firefighters and first responders who are suffering from the long-term affects of PTSD related to a traumatic event.