Why Veterans Commit Suicide

By Tom / May 17, 2017
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“Some Veterans find that they feel numb and lose interest in things they used to enjoy. Others start to feel hopeless…”

How do I know if I am suicidal?

By maketheconnection.net    Have you been thinking that you would be better off dead?

Do you wish you could go to sleep and not wake up? Perhaps you have been planning how you would end your life or making preparations for when you’re not here. You may have actually begun to take action to hurt yourself in a way that could kill you. These are increasingly serious levels of what are called suicidal behaviors.

Most people who consider suicide have problems they think they can never overcome. They think that no one can help them and that suicide is the only way out. People who are considering suicide may feel:

  • Helpless, like there is nothing they can do to make things better
  • Hopeless, thinking their problem cannot be solved by them or anyone else
  • Worthless, thinking they’re unable to help themselves or feeling like a failure
  • Hateful toward themselves
  • Like they are a burden to others
  • As if the pain of living is too much to bear

Some Veterans’ pain may come from having been through traumatic events like the death of someone close to them, seeing people die during their military service, or sexual assault or abuse. Other Veterans’ difficulties may be the result of a major setback such as ending a marriage, losing a job, or feeling as if their honor is lost. Some people may think about suicide due to the buildup of stress, depression, anxiety, or posttraumatic stress that makes life seem as if it’s no longer bearable.

No matter the reason, people don’t attempt suicide because they want to die, but because they see suicide as the only way to escape the pain of living. It is important to realize that there are many ways to handle any problem — even if you can’t see a solution yourself. Sometimes you need an outside perspective to see new answers to personal problems.

Medical conditions such as depression, posttraumatic stress, and chronic pain may lead to thoughts of suicide. There are effective treatments and resources for each of these conditions.

What are the warning signs of suicide?

There are different types of warning signs you may see in yourself or another person who may be in crisis. All warning signs require attention, and some require immediate action. Some people will make jokes about suicide when they are having suicidal thoughts. Others may even appear calmer or happier than usual because they have decided to attempt suicide and feel relief at making a decision. Not everyone who makes a suicide attempt shows warning signs. However, warning signs of suicide should always be taken seriously, even if the person seems to be joking.

“I know a lot of people think about suicide. I know I have. But committing suicide is the exception, and you need to ask for help.”

If you recognize any of the following signs of suicide in yourself or others, you should reach out for support:

The following warning signs require immediate attention:

  • Making a plan for how or when to attempt suicide
  • Frequently talking, writing, or drawing about death or about items that can cause physical harm
  • Acting recklessly or engaging in risky activities without thinking about the consequences
  • Behaving violently such as punching holes in walls, getting into fights, or engaging in acts of self-harm
  • Feeling rage or uncontrolled anger or seeking revenge
  • Acting as though you have a “death wish”; tempting fate by taking risks that could lead to death, such as driving fast or running red lights
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Putting your affairs in order, tying up loose ends, and/or making out a will
  • Seeking access to firearms, pills, or other means of harming yourself

It is important to get help right away if you notice any of the signs above. Getting support can help you see that solutions to your problems exist and that suicide is not the answer.

What is the treatment for suicidal thoughts and behavior?

No matter the problem you are dealing with, there is support available, and there are things you can do to solve it. Veterans of all ages and eras have sought help for suicidal thoughts and behavior and are living better lives today. You can hear stories from fellow Veterans and Service members about their own battles with suicidal thoughts and behavior and how they overcame them.

Treatments to cope with suicidal thoughts and behaviors can involve counseling, medication, or a combination of these. Counseling can help you see new solutions and perspectives that may not have occurred to you, and give you better ways of coping. Medications affect the chemicals in your brain that may be contributing to your feeling down and thoughts of suicide.

“I thought, ‘What’s the purpose of me living?’ I really didn’t want to be here anymore. But what saved me was finding this great therapist at the VA after I admitted myself into the hospital. That was the first time that I was able to open up about what I had been through.”

In addition to treatment, you can adjust your lifestyle to help prevent or deal with suicidal thoughts. Be sure to take time to:

  • Set reasonable goals for yourself.
  • Cut back on obligations if you are overworked.
  • Spend time with family, friends, or other Veterans to avoid feeling isolated.
  • Exercise and get enough sleep.
  • Slow down, using relaxation techniques such as meditation or deep breathing.

What can I do to cope with suicidal thoughts and behaviors?

If you are having thoughts of harming yourself or wish you were dead, you should talk to someone right away. Your family and friends may already know that you’re having a…

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