I recently learned an old Army buddy took her life. I’m devastated.
It got me thinking… why do people commit suicide? It’s usually one or more of the following: feelings of hopelessness, substance abuse, trauma, underlying mental health conditions (depression, PTSD, etc), and isolation..
What can YOU do to help those around you? Let’s break it down.
Feeling hopeless: This can include circumstances such as un- or underemployment, familial issues, financial trouble, or no clear mission in life. To help someone in this situation, do what you can to help them find a job. Act as or refer them to someone who can help them with their career. Encourage them to confide in you their problems. People often feel better just venting – engage with those around you.
Substance abuse: Aside from the health care resources out there, know the signs of someone dealing with alcohol or drug abuse. Be blunt with them – it’s a downward spiral, and unless things change, their situation will not get better. Tell them you care about them.
Trauma: Speaking from experience, time does not heal these wounds. Talk to a professional. Get help. Our mind is like a sponge – it will absorb only so much before it starts dripping out. These issues are deeply personal, and people may not be comfortable talking with coworkers, but if you talk about how you (or people you know) got professional help, and you benefitted, please share that! This helps end the stigma.
Underlying mental health conditions: Just like the trauma above, we have to make counseling and professional help the norm! Anxiety, depression, PTSD, etc., don’t get better on their own.
Isolation: Social media doesn’t fill the void we have by not interacting with people. Encourage people to go to church, go volunteer, join meetups, or otherwise do something involving interacting with other people. There are meetups for every hobby under the sun. Quality human interaction is great for keeping us grounded. Isolation only makes depression worse, even if it seems to feel the most appropriate. Invite people out to lunch, have them over for dinner, or just engage them in conversation day-to-day.
While this isn’t all-inclusive, these are some things we can do to help do our part. Suicide and drug abuse have caused our national life expectancy to decrease for the past few years. Something has to change.
I miss you, Amy. I wish you would have called me first.
From the staff at VetSec, if you or someone you know needs resources, please see below-:
Find a therapist https://www.therapyroute.com/
If you’re a member of the Vetsec Slack, our #mental-health channel
https://nami.org/ – National Alliance on Mental Illness
https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/help-yourself/veterans/ – The Veterans Crisis Line – 1-800-273-8255