Jean Lamb: preventing suicides among veterans, the military – La Tribune
Our army is one of this country’s greatest assets. Yet sadly, veterans account for almost a quarter of suicide deaths in the United States.
The VA’s 2021 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report shows a decrease from 2018 to 2019 in the total number of veteran suicide deaths. However, one suicide is one suicide too many. Returning from combat, a deployment, or the transition from military to civilian life can be difficult, and sometimes the procedures put in place to deal with these issues struggle to meet the needs of the veteran.
Suicide is preventable. But suicide and suicide prevention can be extremely complicated. There is no single cause of suicide among veterans and military personnel.
Many will never seek help from the system. We need to close this gap. By treating and preventing mental health crises and addiction, and also helping veterans and military personnel live and thrive in their communities, lives can be saved.
We need to increase our knowledge and understanding of what to do if someone is in crisis. You don’t have to be an expert to recognize when someone you love is going through a rough patch. Many veterans show no sign of wanting to harm themselves. Some of the more common warning signs to look for are: anger or rage; mood swings; sleeping troubles; impulsive behavior; increased consumption of alcohol or drugs; self-medication; anxiety or agitation; withdrawal from family and friends; and struggling to find purpose in life.
If you recognize any of the symptoms listed above in a veteran or serving member of the service, please recommend that they contact their local Veterans Affairs health facility. Their trained suicide prevention coordinators, available at every VA medical center, can help get the advice we desperately need.
It is also recommended that individuals or associated military organizations implement suicide prevention training; Staff trained in prevention must get to know each other in order to easily spot a suicidal person and thus ensure that they receive help.
The West Virginia Department of the Marine Corps League encourages families and friends to contact veterans who need to support them. The Veterans Crisis Line connects Crisis Veterans and their families and friends with qualified and caring Veterans Affairs responders through a National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
As stated above, one suicide is one suicide too many.
Jean Lamb is the public relations officer for the Marine Corps League Department of West Virginia.