We’re proud of our troops, and vocally so. Safe at home, it’s hard to imagine the trauma they’ve been through, the horrors they have seen. And it’s easy to do so, their military training encourages them to be selfless – put others before themselves. It’s hard to see the isolation behind an easy-going smile.
Veterans make up over 13% of the adult population in the U.S yet account for about 18% of adult suicide deaths in the nation. In fact, more members of the services have died by suicide than in combat in recent years, post 9/11. It’s an alarming statistic. A well-known study by the Department of Veterans Affairs published in 2012 stated that approximately 22 veterans committed suicide every day. More recent research by Costs of War Project at Brown University puts it at a higher figure and includes data on suicide by active members.
Causes of Military Suicide:
Imagine coming home from a war zone to find the only thing that has changed is you. Being unable to forge connections in civilian lives can lead to intense loneliness. Additionally, veterans returning from combat often suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and have Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI). Not only that but they also suffer from a plethora of mental health issues.
The Military Suicide Research Consortium asked 72 soldiers at Fort Carson, Colo., why they tried to kill themselves and found that all 72 listed the ‘desire to end intense emotional distress’ as one of the reasons. Most put down as many as ten reasons as to why they attempted to end their lives.
Multiple deployments can make this problem worse as they deal with survivors’ guilt, life-changing injuries, and more.
The lack of public support is difficult to deal with too. With many Americans believing the post 9/11 war on terror has been won. Brown University’s research explains two major causes behind these alarming military suicide rates. The first being ‘diminishing approval of the wars, coupled with damaging veteran stereotypes’ and ‘disinterest’ or public indifference to war.
Their ingrained training to put others before themselves and tough outlook can also be a hindrance when it comes to asking for help.
How You Can Help:
There are plenty of programs in place to help service personnel like the Veterans Crisis Line (VCL) that provide confidential suicide prevention and crisis intervention services which have answered over 4.5 million calls since 2007. While there has been widespread political support to increase mental health aid to help veterans, there are plenty of things you can do to help our brave men and women on their return.
Letting them know that they are not alone is one of the biggest forms of support you can give. At Warriors for Freedom, our peer-to-peer support system makes a positive impact on the active duty and veteran population we serve. We provide mental, physical, and wellness support to our nation’s heroes and their families. This is done through outdoor activities, scholarships, and promoting veteran mental health and wellness awareness.
We believe that raising awareness of the high rates of military suicide is critical to ending this epidemic. As well as bringing awareness to veteran mental health. This is why we launched the “Remembering the 22″ campaign in 2014 in honor of the veterans who commit suicide each day. While the number 22 (or more) is alarming, we believe that even one suicide is one too many.
Join our Remember the 22 campaign today!