When someone commits suicide, it’s a tragedy. When we are losing more soldiers to suicide than to the Afghanistan war, it’s a tragic epidemic.
In June of 2010, there were more than 32 confirmed or suspected suicides among soldiers. Studies confirm that individuals in the military are at higher risk than the general population due to the situations to which they are exposed. Wartime pressures are high, and soldiers come back from combat showing signs of psychiatric illnesses and addictions. These factors can combine into a powerful cocktail that triggers thoughts of suicide. It’s time to take a closer look at them.
This article is about prevention. It will detail some of the warning signs soldiers exhibit prior to a suicide attempt and will discuss preventive measures. Yet this article is for everyone; it has been estimated that 65% (PTSD Research Quarterly) of the general population knows someone who has committed suicide.
Military efforts to reduce risk have improved and new programs are being created. But although suicide prevention rides on the shoulders of the government, it depends on other soldiers and civilians as well. It is imperative that we are armed with awareness and effective prevention measures.
Disorders Commonly Found Among Suicidal Soldiers
The military has identified Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), other mental illnesses, and addiction as suicide risk factors. Understanding conditions like these can help individuals ascertain that someone is at risk and provide the support they need.
The following disorders are commonplace among soldiers who commit suicide. Some of the signs and symptoms will be explained in detail. Please note that when someone meets the following criteria, it does not necessarily mean they are suicidal. These are simply red flag disorders often associated with thoughts of self-harm. This is also not an exhaustive list of predictors; soldiers may exhibit other behaviors that signal concern.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) may result from exposure to a traumatic event. It is the body’s and the mind’s way of responding to an overwhelming situation involving fear. And, as often the case for soldiers, the threat of, or contact with, death.