Recognizing Suicide Risk and How To Respond
September is designated in the U.S. as National Suicide Prevention Month, in conjunction with World Suicide Prevention Day, which falls on Monday, September 10 in 2012. Tricare recognizes this important, month-long effort to educate the military community about suicide awareness and prevention. The Navy has established its own suicide awareness page, with information and links to other resources. The Marine Corps website has a section on suicide prevention with resources for Marines and their families. The Army has created a suicide awareness PDF, full of information and resources. The Air Force has a very comprehensive suicide prevention website which, while mainly geared towards active-duty members, provides useful information and links for families, as well.
The issue of suicide among military members and veterans is a very hot topic these days. The current numbers indicate one military member or veteran commits suicide every day. Thankfully, the increased press interest in bringing desperately needed attention to this crisis, and the DOD and VA are responding to the need and to the public outcry. However, another dark number remains hidden in this story: the suicide rate among military family members.
The DOD has made some progress in recent years in reducing the personal and professional stigma attached to military members’ seeking help for mental health issues. We, as rational and compassionate people, understand how living through the horrors of war can cause depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress. No reasonable person would blame a veteran for having a hard time readjusting or coping with his or her experiences in country. But what about compassion, understanding and reduced stigma for people with very different wartime experiences? What about those who are left at home, consumed with worry and fear for days, weeks and months on end? After all, we’re military spouses! We are notorious for our strength, our support networks, and our ability to manage households, kids, jobs, bills and deployments like superheroes, right?
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