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Suicides in the Military

They stand for US, they fight, they signed up to protect our country, and represent the best of the best. In all the Armed Forces now we are seeing the statistics; hearing of their stories, and the horrors we even witness on the news of what they see, hear, do, and absorb into their very being. Suicide rates are now at a record high among those serving our great Nation. Those who have served, are serving. Those who have returned home and now find that they do not “fit in” as nothing seems as it was. The intrusive images, nightmares, flashbacks, and horror have made their way into the brain of these soldiers and they often suffer PTSD, post traumatic stress disorder that is complicated; families in their hearts expect the same person who left them to return to them.
2012 held the highest numbers of completed suicides in history. Some will say that each 25 hours someone died of suicide serving last year. More lives were lost to suicide than that of combat. Lives forever changed, families forever changed, the landscape of love forever changed by war and those who felt helpless or clueless to step up or step in to prevent it.

  The Army placed their toll of suicides at 182, and perhaps that was a count that was less than reported. During 2012, there also were 60 suicides among active-duty members of the Navy, 59 in the Air Force and 48 in the Marine Corps. Again, these numbers are the ones that were reported to the Pentagon.
Some were deployed, some were not… all leaving behind those who loved or cared about them. Programs need to address the traumas, the pain that our soldiers and community face to instill interventions, to find ways to be there as we continue to see more and more men and women returning home from war. We know that they will need services, support and others to help with that transition. We know that who they were before they left American Soil is not who they will return as. 

Particularly not in this climate of hate, of political unrest and uncertainty. These men and women have been fighting for our freedoms; they are and will be confronted with another war zone; that of unhappy political confrontation  when the plane sets down on our soils. We must find the brightest of the bright to address the myriad of emotional/physical/spiritual states and find them assistance to re develop healthy coping strategies for them, community, and their families. 

We must remind them that we appreciate them, that they matter, their lives are precious and that we STAND for them and their lives. 
It has been said that suicides for the military are after all lower than that of mainstream America… well ok, and the point is?
This is the Military we are now speaking on, those men and women who signed the blank check on their lives for our country, and then put on a uniform and gave up the 9-5 jobs for all of US… they formed alliances of their forces and now need to be able to trust that we all in the field of helping know what we are doing to help and to be there when they return; that the military will be as strong by their side as they were at the recruiting stations to see them through the transitions back into the life they lived before war. We have a responsibility to keep mental health services intact even if we have to rename them in order for people to embrace them. We have a responsiblity to human kind to be there in the darkest hour and together to get to the light. A moral and ethical responsiblity called life and gratitude to those who serve our country and for each and every person who takes a breath and feels hopeless. Families and loved ones have not been inside or on the sand with those in the Uniform but often receive the letters from sons and daughters, husbands, wives and can hear or see the pain. they are not the experts, yet want their loved one back intact.
When soldiers leave the war zones, get on the plane headed home, they then enter the danger zone… it used to be called ‘home’.
We must empower and teach them to love themselves and to know we are STANDING with them.  

Tonight I will be joining Scott Ledger again on Dangerous Conversations as we talk to veterans about SUICIDE and the Military on “2100 Hours”
Tune in 9-11pm On www.RadioIo.com
Ledge and I will be there talking to some Vets!
Airwork:WAQY WZTA WXTB WTBT WHPT Buccaneers Radio 

 Suicide is an insidious killer. It is raging in our Military, in people across the world, yes in celebrities that get noticed and talked about, in some high profile situations and those that make the news.
It is happening in places some do not know exist. 
Suicide among Native American YOUTH is the highest of anywhere or anyone in our country. All over reservations of South Dakota and beyond, suicide has become the  second leading cause of death for Lakota youth, American Indians, Alaskans, between the ages of 15-24. They are completing suicides at a rate of more than 3 times the national average.

More soldiers are dying by suicide than in combat.


Risk Factors

  • Family history of suicide
  • Family history of child maltreatment
  • Previous suicide attempt(s)
  • History of mental disorders, particularly clinical depression
  • History of alcohol and substance abuse
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Impulsive or aggressive tendencies
  • Cultural and religious beliefs (e.g., belief that suicide is noble resolution of a personal dilemma)
  • Local epidemics of suicide
  • Isolation, a feeling of being cut off from other people
  • Barriers to accessing mental health treatment
  • Loss (relational, social, work, or financial)
  • Physical illness
  • Easy access to lethal methods
  • Unwillingness to seek help because of the stigma attached to mental health and substance abuse disorders or to suicidal thoughts

Native American youth have the largest suicide deaths in the country. 

Protective Factors

  • Effective clinical care for mental, physical, and substance abuse disorders
  • Easy access to a variety of clinical interventions and support for help seeking
  • Family and community support (connectedness)
  • Therapy
  • Support from ongoing medical and mental health care relationships
  • Skills in problem solving, conflict resolution, and nonviolent ways of handling disputes
  • Cultural and religious beliefs that discourage suicide and support instincts for self-preservation
  • Hope appreciation Compassion
  •  Funding for our Relations and wounded warriors

Take a stand, extend a hand, reach one teach one, save one.
Thank you to all who serve, your lives are so very valuable to all of us.

Walk in Beauty,

U.S. Military - Dog Tags ... U.S. Military Sui...

U.S. Military – Dog Tags … U.S. Military Suicides in 2012: 155 Days, 154 Dead (June 8, 2012) … (Photo credit: marsmet511)



One comment on “Suicides in the Military

  1. Thank you for your words today Dr. Sherry. Very tough topic and one that is felt by so many across our nation. One that is a very sad state and outcome. I am reminded of my Father. He came home from the Korean War in 1954. I was born 10 month later. All of my life I knew our family was different from other families and friends. Our Father made our life different. He lived his entire adult life, after the war, in depression and never sought help. He died in 2007. Several times, I remember as a very young child him playing "suicide" to frighten my dear Mom and us kids. It was, and still is, a horrible memory that he put us through. I just wish that he would have sought help and been better. I wish he could have been a happier man and father. I pray you reach many on your radio talk show and those who need help find help before it is to late. Take care friends and have a delightful day. We came through the storm just fine and less snow than predicted for us. – YEAH!! I hope it is warm where you are /Sandy♥

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