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VETERAN SUICIDES



Published: Sat, May 4, 2013 @ 12:02 a.m.

An average of 18 veterans commit suicide every day. Male veterans are twice as likely as nonveteran males to take their own lives.

Coast Guard: Average of four per year.

Navy: 11.6 per 100,000 members in 2009.

Air Force: 12.3 per 100,000 members in 2009.

Marine Corps: 19 per 100,000 members in 2009.

Army: 20.2 per 100,000 members in 2009.

General US population: 11.1 per 100,000 over the last five years.

EXPLAINING HIGH RATE

Traumatic stress, major physical injuries, disruption of relationships, a high level of deployment stress, and mental and physical disabilities are associated with increased suicide rates.

Mental state:

High degree of self-hatred.

Belief that loved ones, friends, and colleagues would be better off without them.

Sufficient distress to overcome the extremely strong drive to survive.

Overwhelming negative feelings: Things will not improve; things just keep happening to me; no one can help me; I am not worth the effort.

Depression, clinically or biologically based or medication side effect.

Key factors:

Change: Duty assignments; level of deployment stress; relationships; body image, especially with disabilities after wounds; self-confidence; financial situation; social status; legal situation.

Loss: Physical functions; death of a loved one; self-esteem or personal expectations; civilian employment; desired duty assignment; mental capacities; home; future dream or potential after physical or mental wounds.

Abuses, perceived or actual: Physical from domestic violence; past history or current emotional/psychological abuse; sexual in the military; deliberate social isolation by colleagues; multiple, rapid succession, overseas deployments; involuntary extensions of military service; neglect of physical and psychological wounds encountered during military service.

PREVENTION

To prevent suicide, one must know and recognize the signals and provide help. Causes of depression

Significant change, loss, frustration, stress, neglect or abuse.

Failed relationships.

Alcohol or substance abuse.

Deployment stress.

Anxiety or fear.

Injuries caused by accident, illness or hostile action.

Traumatic brain injury.

Post-traumatic stress disorder.

Overt suicide clues

Direct statement: “I am going to kill myself.”

Making funeral arrangements.

Describing a suicide plan.

Expressing frequent feelings of sadness and despair.

Increased substance abuse.

Noticeable increased risk- taking.

Source: Department of Veterans Affairs.


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