There have been a number of discussions lately about the validity of the veteran suicide rate being popularly quoted as “22 a day.” Different research reports and studies do come up with different numbers, just because they tend to look at different types of statistics.
Many of these reports do not count veterans if they had been discharged more than six weeks prior.
Some states don’t report numbers at all.
A new VA study published in July of 2016 stated that “roughly 20 veterans a day commit suicide nationwide, according to new data from the Department of Veterans Affairs.” Whether 20 or 22 or 2, the number itself doesn’t matter as much as the fact that it continues to happen.
The questions much bigger than the “how many?” are the “why?” and “what can be done?”
For the last question, we all need to be able to recognize the signs. Check out a helpful list at https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/SignsOfCrisis/Identifying.aspx. Among the signs listed are:
- Feeling anxious, agitated, or unable to sleep
- Frequent and dramatic mood changes
- Expressing feelings of excessive guilt or shame
- Feelings of failure or decreased performance
- Feeling that life is not worth living, having no sense of purpose in life
- Talk about feeling trapped—like there is no way out of a situation
- Having feelings of desperation, and saying that there’s no solution to their problems
- Acting recklessly or engaging in risky activities—seemingly without thinking
- Giving away prized possessions
- Putting affairs in order, tying up loose ends, and/or making out a will
The “why?” is more difficult to answer. More veterans have thought about, attempted, and committed suicide since 9/11. When soldiers at Fort Carlson, Colorado, were asked the question of “why?”, their primary answer was that they had “a desire to end intense emotional distress.”
Being a soldier is hard. Coming home is often harder. The transition needs to be handled appropriately or soldiers will be left with a sense of uncertainty and despair that leads to that intense emotional distress.
Stop worrying about the numbers. Focus on the warning signs, the “what can be done?”
Let me know how I can help.
#transition #success #veterans