Douglas Karr, USN Veteran
Operations Desert Storm & Desert Shield
(I would not normally publish another writer’s article on my blog but this is for a good cause. My hope is that veterans that visit this blog may find some value in Doug’s article).
According to The Chronicle of Higher Education close to half of all veterans have contemplated suicide and 20 percent have made actual plans to kill themselves. Suicide among returning soldiers has become a rampant problem over the past decade.
Reasons for Suicide
There are many reasons veterans contemplate suicide. Frequently, returning soldiers are faced with difficulty reintegrating into civilian life when they return from combat. Additionally, in today’s economy, veterans are also forced to deal with the difficulty of finding civilian employment and may also be stunned to discover that their home is in or on the verge of foreclosure. Add to this potential injuries and long-term health issues that arise from being exposed to combat conditions and the risk of suicide escalates among veterans.
When someone contemplates suicide, it is often because they simply cannot see a future for themselves. They do not have feelings of hope that things will get better or their lives will improve. For veterans with PTSD or severe physical injuries, pain can also be a contributing factor. For those with PTSD, the symptoms of the condition can be so overwhelming that soldiers may feel completely out of control and they may never regain their equilibrium. For those with physical pain symptoms, the pain may become so hard to cope with that they would rather not live than continue living with the pain.
Symptoms of Depression and Suicide Risk
Depression often goes hand-in-hand with risk for suicide. Common symptoms of depression include irritability, difficulty sleeping (sleeping less or more than normal), changes in appetite (eating more or less than usual), feeling down or depressed, feeling hopeless, feeling sad, crying, problems with concentration and difficulty being motivated.
People who are contemplating suicide may have access to ways to hurt themselves, they may actually develop a plan and may even consider what to say to those they leave behind. They may go through a process of giving away possessions that mean something to them. Or may also talk about what they want to happen when they are no longer living.
Suicide and depression are health conditions that are vastly different from those faced by veterans who were exposed to hazardous materials like asbestos and later developed mesothelioma and asbestos cancer. Depression and risk for suicide often cannot be traced back to a specific cause, but to an accumulated set of events.
If you believe you are depressed or know of veterans who you are concerned may hurt themselves, call the Veterans Crisis Line. They have trained staff to help them and potentially prevent a tragic death.
For more information or if you wish to get advice and help, please contact Doug at firstname.lastname@example.org