Veterans Day Brings Renewed Hope for Awareness of Military Suicide

soldier salutes fallen comradesIn 2012, more military members died by suicide than from combat. In fact, according to statistics provided by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), military suicide is at its highest rate in 10 years, and military personnel represent 20% of suicides nationwide.

Because of the stigma surrounding mental health issues for those in the military, those experiencing distress following combat may be reluctant to seek help out of fear they’ll be viewed as weak for feeling depressed, anxious, stressed, or otherwise overwhelmed.

But the reality is that more than 300,000 men and women who have served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been diagnosed with posttraumatic stress. It is also believed that traumatic brain injuries may increase suicidal thoughts and behavior, and with 8% to 20% of military personnel returning home with such injuries, many are enduring their symptoms in silence.

In honor of Veterans Day, the APA released a public service announcement addressing this serious issue. The brief video features Patrick Kennedy, a former U.S. congressman, who urges listeners to send the message to military members—and loved ones—who may be experiencing PTSD that “seeking help for mental health is a sign of strength, not weakness.”

Earlier this year, GoodTherapy.org published a Topic Expert roundup on the troubling rates of military suicide, in which eight mental health professionals share their insights on the subject. Through open dialogue and increased awareness of how common it is to experience difficulty in coping with the challenges of combat, the hope is that more military members will seek the mental health care they need—and that they will feel confident and supported in doing so.

To all who have served and will serve, our deepest gratitude.

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  • Nina

    Nina

    November 11th, 2013 at 10:32 AM

    That first sentence really struck me- more vets died from suicide in 2012 than in combat. That is crazy to me!! What are we doing wrong that this segment of our population feels the need to use suicide as a way out far more often than the general public?

  • alexa m

    alexa m

    November 12th, 2013 at 4:46 AM

    You would hope that veterans would find themselves one of the most supported parts of society, but I think that many of them feel very isolated from “normal” life when they return home. I think that there is probably this huge feeling that no one at home will understand the things that they have seen or have been through and for many this begins to weigh very heavily on them. I also think that there is this added pressure of always having to be the tough guy because they are vets, and there are many who wish to drop this facade once they get home but then they have lost the other parts of their identity so they struggle with that too.

  • Noelle

    Noelle

    November 12th, 2013 at 11:31 AM

    I know that your site has truly been an advocate for improving health care for veterans as I have seen numerous articles address that issue, and for that so many of us are thankful. But for others it’s sad that we have to have that designated day before anyone with much input will actually stand up and pay attention to the inadequacies in care that so many veterans find themselves the recipients of.

  • braylon s

    braylon s

    November 13th, 2013 at 4:46 AM

    I haven’t ever been in the military but I would like to hear some from those who served over the years,, because I am wondering if because this seems like it is getting easier for society overall to talk about mental health problems if the same is holding true in the military. I know that they could be a little more closed off then some other segments of society, and I won’t say close minded, but you get what I’m saying maybe not as willing to be as up front and honest about stuff. But is this in any way getting better for those who are struggling on a daily basis with a mental health problem, is the military becoming open enough to where they are feeling like they can now ask for some help without feeling ostracized?

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