Nearly one U.S. soldier loses life to suicide each day this year
|Image source: Union Resource Center|
Several people wear peace symbols on shirts and urge the government to “send home our troops” from deadly missions overseas. But the fact is – more soldiers die from suicide than at the hands of foreign enemies.
I heard about an extremely sad fact reported by the Associated Press this week – that nearly one U.S. solider a day has committed suicide this year. There have been 154 suicides in active duty troops in the first 155 days of the year – which outnumbers those killed in action in Afghanistan by nearly 50 percent. This is an 18 percent increase compared to last year at the same time.
It’s scary to think, even more than terrorists; sometimes our biggest enemy can be ourselves.
To me, I think soldiers are the greatest heroes – putting their own lives at stake on a daily basis for our country. But even the bravest of the brave are bound to be affected by this kind of life. This doesn’t make troops any less brave because this affects them. It only means they are human.
And I honestly would be more worried if none of this did affect them. How can you firsthand see the war, watch as people die, and not be affected and cry for those who lost their lives (unless you have no heart)?
I heard this saying once, “If you haven’t thought about suicide, then you haven’t lived.”
I think this is so true, and I think it could help others who feel this way know they are not alone or “weak.” In fact, this thought makes them normal.
Life is hard for all of us, and I think for military men and women, it is even more difficult.
While I do think urging for peace across our country is a great thing to stand for, this is something that also needs to be talked about – adding a yellow suicide awareness ribbon to our wardrobe along with the peace sign shirt.
According to the AP report, studies have pointed to combat exposure, post-traumatic stress, misuse of prescription medications and personal financial problems as explanations why this suicide rate has increased so dramatically this year. Army data suggests soldiers with multiple combat tours are at greater risk of committing suicide, although a substantial proportion of Army suicides are committed by soldiers who never deployed.
Many in the military believe that going for help is seen as a sign of weakness and thus a potential threat to advancement, according to AP. Making them feel even worse, it is reported that a senior Army officer told soldiers contemplating suicide to “act like an adult.”
Contemplating suicide does not make a person any less than an “adult.” Like I said before, and I will say it again, it makes them human.
I want to stress that seeking mental health help with not harm a soldier’s career. Col. Scott Marrs, PhD, chief of the Air Force's mental health division, said, “Seeking mental health care doesn't harm your career … It's not being able to do your job because of personal issues that can harm your career.”
If you are a military man or woman who is contemplating suicide, I urge you to get help. This does not mean your weak. If anything, I think it makes you even more brave to find the courage to talk about it and get the help you need.
Marines can call the anonymous 24/7 DStress line 877-476-7734 to talk to someone or visit dstressline.com to talk to a person online.
Veterans (of any military branch) can call the Lifeline number, 1-800-273- TALK (8255), and press “1” to be routed to the Veterans Suicide Prevention Hotline.
For deployed soldiers, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. Calls originating in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait should be preceded by the DSN access code “94.” For soldiers with mental health issues or contemplating suicide who are stationed in America, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
For soldiers/vets living in Michigan, call Common Ground’s 24/7 Crisis Line 800-231-1127 or visit comongroundhelps.org.
Read original story Suicides are surging among U.S. troops.