So this article was shown to me yesterday and since I read it it’s been haunting me somewhat.
In 2014 the numbers show 534 Active duty ,Reserve, and National Guard deaths due to suicide. Take a second and just think about that number 534. Now think about the statistic of 22 veterans not currently serving in an active or reserve capacity a day committing suicide. These numbers largely rely on states reporting and knowing if they had a veteran status for suicide numbers reported. Well in case you aren’t in the know the systems for bothering to look into a persons veterans status is wholly inadequate as you can expect in any bureaucratic system. This also doesn’t take into account those who accidentally overdose on drugs. Drug abuse is widely used to cope with the reality of living with Post Traumatic Stress. These numbers are unfathomable! If as many people died form Ebola as die from Veteran Suicide the CDC would quarantine the entire country and people would be in an absolute panic.
This is the reality we as veterans find ourselves living in every day. Our community is a small one and the evidence of the impact this is having on us can be seen everyday.
I wake up with my cup of coffee and turn on my computer and browse my facebook (which is primarily used to keep in touch with my Army family) and I am notified it’s my buddy’s birthday. His page was never taken down since his passing in March from a drug overdose. He had been trying to come to grips with the realities of living through our deployment in Afghanistan and hadn’t been getting the help that he needed at the VA so he turned to drug abuse to escape it. I saw posts from his mother and his sister as well as some of my brothers from the platoon I deployed with. All I could do is sit there completely all consumed in the reality of his absence. I can see the grief in the posts on his page and it weighs on me. I’m laid upon by a dark and daunting morass of emotion. This is a man who I went through war with. Damn near every good memory I have from my war experience involves him. I’m reminded of pulling shitty ass night time guard duty to looking across our position at him eyes wide and face pale as the 107mm rockets start coming in around us , even being pinned down by enemy fire and nearly being wiped off this earth by a well placed RPG as we made movement to a better position. I had the experience of being part of a group of men that would unquestioningly die for me and I for them. His loss is so deeply felt by me and the other 30 men that were on that small outpost in the mountains of Afghanistan I don’t know that there are words to quantify it.
This level of connection is repeated through out the entire military. Breaking these connections is absolutely devastating to us. We are a demographic that is in absolute crisis. We need to be there for each other and watch over one another. The stigma that it is weak to seek out help for mental health issues need to be combated on all fronts and we need to do a better job of reaching out and bringing up the hard issues.
I leave you with this message and plead with you to’Break the Stigma’of seeking out help to deal with mental health issues.
If you or a loved one is a Veteran who is contemplating suicide and are in crisis please please call 1-800-273- 8255 and press 1.
If you are need of seeking treatment I would recommend looking at the program “Give an Hour” they are a great program that provides counseling to military veterans and family members
To learn more about identifying the potential signs of suicide visit