If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts and feelings, call the Veteran’s Crisis Line today: 1-800-273-8255
September is National Suicide Prevention Month.
Suicide among service members and veterans has been a highly critical issue for as long as the branches of the military have existed. You might ask, how critical is it? According to a 2019 Congressional Research Service Report titled, “Recent Trends in Active-Duty Military Deaths” 3,863 service members ended their own lives between 2006 and 2018. This was more than both those who died in combat and those who died of wounds combined during that period. A 2016 report from the Office of Suicide Prevention states that while veterans account for only 8.5% of the U.S. population, 18% of all adult suicides are veterans. This equates to approximately 20 per day.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among service members, and one of the leading causes of death among veterans.
Military members and their families tend to be more vulnerable to issues with suicidal thoughts, feelings, and/or actions in certain situations of high stress and pressure, including but not limited to the time leading up to deployment and post-deployment. The Department of Veterans Affairs website lists warning signs for service members, veterans, and their families to look for and be aware of, especially during these times of crisis and stress:
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Feeling like there is no way out
- Anxiety and agitation
- Mood Swings
- Feeling like there is no reason to live
- Risky Behavior
- Increasing alcohol/drug use or abuse
- Withdrawing from family and friends
The VA advises immediate attention if any of these signs appear:
- Thoughts of self-harm
- Researching ways to die or commit suicide
- Talk of death, dying, suicide
- Self-destructive Behaviors
If you or someone you know is struggling with any thoughts or feelings of suicide or self-harm, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. There is a wide range of resources available to you. One of the top resources is the Veteran’s Crisis Line. This online and phone-based resource is available for all veterans, service members, National Guard and Reserve, as well as their family members and friends. The Veteran’s Crisis Line is free, confidential, and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
To contact the Veteran’s Crisis Line:
Call: 1-800-273-8255, Press 1
Text: Send message to 838255 (free to text, but service provider’s message and data rates may apply)
Chat: Go to the Veteran’s Crisis Line Chat Page and follow the instructions
There are also service specific resources available:
- U.S. Airforce Suicide Prevention
- U.S. Army Suicide Prevention
- National Guard Suicide Prevention
- U.S. Marine Suicide Prevention
- U.S. Navy Suicide Prevention
- U.S. Coast Guard Suicide Prevention
The Department of Defense and the U.S. Military branches have made great strides in the name of suicide prevention among its members, veterans, and their families. However, the statistics are still staggering. The stigma of appearing weak because you need help has to end, and it has to end today. There is nothing wrong or weak about getting help for an overwhelming issue you may be facing. If you or someone you know is in crisis, reach out to of one these resources today and receive the help you need!