Standing Shoulder to Shoulder: Finding Strength and Hope Together
If you are feeling distressed or hopeless, thinking about death or wanting to die; or, if you are concerned about someone who may be suicidal, please contact Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
September is Suicide Prevention Month, and it has never been more essential to raise your alert level about stress that may be affecting you or your colleagues. The credo "Shoulder to Shoulder: Finding Strength and Hope Together" can inspire you to seek or offer help in managing the stress of service and general work-life balance issues. Fortunately, the resources you need are only a click or phone call away.
The stress and rewards of military service are unique, but the stigma against mental health discussion in the U.S. can inhibit proper recognition of stress when it develops into a problem. Managing combat trauma or stress from performing a high-pressure role are equally as important and potentially as serious as upholding logistical responsibilities. A brain injury acquired during combat, social isolation, unemployment, or self-pain management with substance abuse, could quickly exacerbate, and seeking help before a problem escalates is essential.
Military personnel have extensive mental health resources available to them. In some cases an issue that may seem overwhelming can be resolved in as little as a few VA counselor sessions. Some military members may fear that a boss or co-worker could learn about treatment, and impact their career advancement or security clearance. This is a common experience that discourages people from seeking help. However, the reality is that a phone-based counselor can offer you resources anonymously, and a counselor at a VA local office is bound by confidentiality. An emotional health issue would nearly always remain private and manageable, particularly when treated in the early stages. If a suicide situation should escalate, a military hotline or online chat option is available with a counselor who can anonymously handle your concerns at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or http://www.veteranscrisisline.net/ActiveDuty.aspx.
A person who becomes overwhelmed and is contemplating suicide may not talk to you about it directly because they may be afraid of your reaction or unreasonable thoughts may be unduly influencing their behavior. Talking about it directly can be the best way to diffuse a potentially harmful situation. It can be a relief for a soldier under stress to talk about it openly and put whatever issue is plaguing them into a realistic context.
The suicide rate in the U.S. has been rising steadily since 2005*, and for U.S. military veterans is twice that of the civilian population. The trauma related to combat and high-pressure work are contributing factors. About 20 percent of the approximate 38,000 suicides in the U.S. each year are executed by military veterans that compose only 10 percent of the national population.**
Counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy, lifestyle management and medication can help.
- Military Crisis Line1-800-273-TALK (8255) or Live chat
The Military Crisis Line and accompanying website offers proactive or crisis-level resources for active U.S. military personnel and veterans, such as local suicide prevention coordinators at VA Medical Centers, crisis centers, VA Medical Centers, outpatient clinics, Veterans Benefits Administration Offices, Vet Centers readjustment counseling and outreach. The crisis line counselors have effectively dissuaded a suicidal person from pursuing an active attempt, helping them put down a firearm, for example, and seek a local individual for help.
HelpGuide.org is a non-profit website that highlights health issues. Its suicide prevention section is a comprehensive guide for effectively recognizing, preventing and treating suicidal behavior. Reading it and becoming alert to the signs could save a life.
- Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury
A military sponsored website that has suicide prevention videos posted that can help you prepare to speak to a friend or colleague.
- IMCOM and MWR
The U.S. Army Installation Management Command (IMCOM) website offers information about Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs.
Other Important Information: