Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States. Suicide is a serious topic within the general population, as well as the military. Suicide rates for active-duty service members and veterans are rising. According to statistics, 20 veterans die by suicide each day (Giacomo, 2019.) It is not just members of the service that deal with stress, but families undergo many stressors and experience a variety of exposures while dealing with the military lifestyle. Veterans are victims of suicide due to many reasons, including failure to adapt back into civilian life, a process many find challenging, the feeling of helplessness, and dealing with Post Traumatic Symptom Disorder (PTSD).
One of the most significant battles is the military is seeking mental health treatment. Why? Because it goes against everything we are taught in boot camp. We are told to push through the pain and to think of everybody else before self. It is teaching us one team one fight culture, although this is contradicting because many of us associate that with keeping our needs and feelings to ourselves. There are many myths as to why service members are afraid or don’t come forward about mental health. One myth that is known amongst service members is that a psychological health condition or seeking professional help will automatically disqualify you for a security clearance. In fact, less than 1% of security clearance denials and revocations involve psychological health concerns. We can educate and prevent by bringing awareness to current trends and statistics in military health, to break the stigma regarding reprimands for seeking mental health, loss of security clearance/ active duty status, and other mental health myths.
There is no single cause for suicide. We have to pay attention to those around us and reach out if they show drastic changes and signs. The importance of knowing the warning signs is as critical as saving a life. Each suicide is one too many, and we need as much help to save lives. Suicide can’t be predicted but can be prevented. Seeking help is a sign of strength. September is the official Suicide Prevention Month.
Giacomo, C. (2019, November 1). Suicide Has Been Deadlier Than Combat for the Military. Retrieved February 13, 2020, from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/01/opinion/military-suicides.html.
Staglin, Garen. “The U.S. Military Can Lead The Way In Mental Health And Suicide Prevention.” Forbes, 21 Nov. 2019, www.forbes.com/sites/onemind/2019/11/21/the-us-military-can-lead-the-way-in-mental-health-and-suicide-prevention/#69e15b4e78ca.