Suicide: How Our Troops Are Struggling

How Our Troops Are Struggling

What do you do in forty seconds?

It’s enough for a brief conversation with a coworker.

A funny post to be read, reacted to, and shared.

It’s an ad before a video, or the time it takes you to order lunch.  

But mostly, you don’t think about it, because it’s just forty seconds; there will be 720 more of them in your eight-hour work day, and another 720 before you go to bed.

Except, by the end of those first forty, meager seconds — one person has killed themself.

According to a study done by the World Health Organization in 2011, approximately one million people around the world commit suicide each year. That translates to:

  • One death every forty seconds

  • 3,000 deaths per day

  • Twenty suicide attempts for each successful one

Suicide has a global mortality rate of sixteen per 100,000 people.

September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and today is Worldwide Suicide Prevention Day. They exist to bring awareness to the growing epidemic of suicide, and for all of us to take note, and action against it. The ultimate goal is to increase national preventative strategies and foster open discussion about mental illness and suicidal thoughts.

Suicide rates for the military are much higher than civilian ones; actually, about 50% higher, according to Columbia University. Prone to injury, disability, and combat-related mental illness, service members are unfortunately at a higher risk of developing suicidal thoughts or actions.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reported in 2012 that there are around 20 veteran suicides per day in America.

Where veterans account for just 8.5% of America’s adult population, they make up 18% of the deaths by suicide.

Finding a solution to such a widespread problem isn’t easy, but there are measures that everyone can take to try to prevent suicide. Erasing the stigma around mental illness is one of them. When people suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and related illnesses feel safe to talk about their struggles, they are more likely to seek help before hurting themselves. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or ideations, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. This phone number is also listed prominently in OurMilitary.com’s helpline section of our site.

1-800-273-8255 functions as the Veterans Crisis Line as well.

Focusing preventative efforts on groups disproportionately affected by mental illness, such as our active duty military and veterans, is key in lowering suicide rates. Communities need to band together and recognize the seriousness of this issue in order to begin to be successful in stopping it.

The Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act of 2007 was the first real step taken by the government to address veteran suicide rates. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs was directed to create a suicide prevention program and implement it across the country. It required educating VA staff on the causes, signs and methods for preventing suicide, which they then spread to veterans and their families. Additionally, the 2010 National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention was revised by President Obama to increase access to mental health resources for veterans, including providing mental health professionals to those suffering.

The #22ADAY movement sponsored by the Military Veteran Project works to lower veteran suicide rates and fund research for traumatic brain injury (TBI) and PTSD. To learn about how you can contribute to this movement, visit: http://www.militaryveteranproject.org/22aday-movement.html

Ask someone how they’re doing today. And then ask again. To learn more about the warning signs of suicide and risk factors behind it, visit:

https://save.org/about-suicide/warning-signs-risk-factors-protective-factors/

Resource

“Shocking Military Suicide Rates and Identifying the Signs │ US Veteran and Military Magazine | A US Veterans News Resource.” US Veterans and Military Magazine | A US Veterans News Resource, 5 Sept. 2017, www.usveteransmagazine.com/2017/09/shocking-military-suicide-rates-identifying-signs/.

“United States Military Veteran Suicide.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 10 Aug. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_military_veteran_suicide.

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