By Welby O’Brien
I recently awoke to a comment under one of our Love Our Vets – PTSD Family Support posts. It said, “I was done…ready to quit. END IT ALL. And then this post came across my feed. THANK YOU for giving me hope!” September is “National Suicide Prevention Month,” and September 10 has been set aside as “World Suicide Prevention Day.” Test YOUR awareness:
1. How many people die by suicide worldwide in a year?
2. On average, how often does one person die by suicide somewhere in the world?
a. Every hour
b. Every minute
c. Every 40 seconds
3. How much have global suicide rates increased since 1970?
If you guessed “c” on all three you are correct (www.suicide.org). If that is not shocking enough, try imagining just ONE of those as YOUR son or daughter or brother or sister or spouse. Or YOU? No one is exempt.
When the pain and agony of living becomes unbearable, the only way some people can see relief is through death.
Depression, loss, grief and many other mental, emotional and circumstantial challenges can afflict ANY of us at ANY time. I personally know 3 individuals who have attempted suicide recently, much to the shock of everyone. And they all happened to be teens. How can this be?
According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suicide is the third leading cause of death for youth between the ages of 10 and 24. And each year approximately 157,000 of youth between those ages receive medical care for self-inflicted injuries at Emergency Departments across the U.S.
As the wife of a Vietnam veteran who is one of millions battling PTSD 24/7, I have become keenly aware of the high suicide risk facing so many of our military members and Veterans. Suicidal thoughts or attempts are one of the many typical symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress. And as we know, PTSD can affect ANYONE, not just military. Anyone at any age.
And we also need to be aware that people of faith are not exempt. “Sadly, suicide occurs among Christians at essentially the same rate as non-Christians.” (Christianity Today, April 9, 2013)
Some typical warning signs may include talking or thinking about death, clinical depression, loss of interest, trouble sleeping and eating, increased substance abuse, putting affairs in order, talking about suicide, saying things like “it would be better if I wasn’t here,” or a sudden, unexpected switch from being very sad to being very calm or appearing to be happy.
Suicide prevention sounds quite noble and politically correct. Sorry to sound skeptical, but I have wondered if it is possible to prevent suicide?
In the absence of a definitive answer, I will at least share what I think are 3 things that CAN HELP, and would be well worth the effort to at least try. Whether or not you know someone who may be at risk for suicide, or even you yourself at some time, it would be wise for ALL of us to have these 3 helpful tips on file. You never know.
# 1. Always Have Crisis Resources on Hand
This is not intended to be an exhaustive list, but just enough to get you started with some helpful resources and ideas. (If you know of additional resources, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org . Thank you.)
* Emergency, dial 911
* National Suicide Prevention Helpline 1-800-273-8255
* Suicide Hotline 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)
* Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-827-7571
* NineLine (for youth in crisis) 1-800-999-9999
* Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800–273-8255 and Press 1;
or chat online at www.VeteransCrisisLine.net; or text 838255
* International Listing of Suicide Hotlines:
* More information at: http://brokenbelievers.com/247-crisis-lines/
* For those in Australia: http://standtall4pts.org/suicide-prevention-3-tips-that-could-save-a-life/
# 2. Seek Ongoing Long Term Support for the Individual
Crisis intervention can be likened to a “paramedic.” However, the afflicted soul will need ongoing professional help and support. Perhaps indefinitely. I encourage you/them to be under a physician’s care, and also a good mental health care provider. Here are a few resources to consider if you do not already have good mental health care.
* Support for Suicide Attempt Survivors
* American Association of Christian Counselors
* National Alliance on Mental Illness
* Psychology Today referrals
* VA Facilities
* Vet Centers
# 3. Offer Ongoing Long-Term Resources for the Family/Loved Ones
The more we can be surrounded and supported by our loved ones who are caring and helpful, the better we all do. Please remember that the special nucleus of family and friends surrounding the person who is struggling also need support for THEMSELVES. Here are a few ideas:
* Support for Suicide Attempt Survivors and Loved Ones
* LOVE OUR VETS – PTSD Family Support, LLC for loved ones of military
and veterans and others battling PTSD
* National Alliance on Mental Illness
Suicide prevention is not just one day or one month…but 24/7 365. Thank you for taking the time to read this and to be prepared. And even if just ONE life is spared, our efforts are ALL worth it!
Please note: Love Our Vets – PTSD Family Support, LLC is here to encourage, and to offer information and support resources. We are NOT a substitute for professional help. Please see your doctor, counselor, therapist, chaplain or VA for complete professional help. Do not use the information on this page or website to diagnose or treat any condition without consulting a qualified health or mental health care provider. If you have concerns, contact your health care provider, mental health professional, or your community health center. ♥
Welby O’Brien is crazy about her veteran husband, and together they find fulfillment as they face the relentless challenges of PTSD. With a Master’s degree in counseling, she has authored the books Formerly A Wife (divorce support) and Good–bye for Now (grief support) (Moody/WingSpread), as well as contributed to Chicken Soup for the Soul (Divorce and Recovery, and The Spirit of America), and Shepherding Women in Pain (Moody). And most recently LOVE OUR VETS: Restoring Hope for Families of Veterans with PTSD (Deep River Books). Welby has been welcomed as a guest speaker across the country, and on radio and television. Welby initiated and continues to facilitate the spouse and family support network known as Love Our Vets – PTSD Family Support, LLC. Join Love Our Vets – PTSD Family Support on Facebook!