It’s a word that we can’t ignore. Talk of veteran suicide and mental health issues are often emotional and difficult topics to encounter for both families and service members. While much emphasis has been placed on veterans who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq in the past few years, recent data also has pointed out that a majority of military-related suicides are attributed to veterans over the age of 50.
Military-connected suicide cuts through demographics in the service, reaches every branch, MOS, gender, and age group, and touches parents, children, spouses, and friends. The ripple effects are enormous.
During September, Suicide Prevention Month, efforts are ramping up across the military community to help combat the stigma of suicide and mental health issues. By becoming allies for those who are struggling with suicide ideation and depression, knowing what to look for, and understanding what to do if someone is in crisis, we can work to make sure that no one gets forgotten or left behind. The following resources are not a comprehensive list, but they are a starting point for those looking for more information and help:
Real Warriors offers easy-to-digest information about helping a friend or loved one who may be experiencing suicide ideation.
Military One Source provides a variety of resources including articles, phone numbers, and links regarding mental health, suicide, and depression through the lens of the military.
While not focused solely on the military, Mental Health America offers many informational pieces on mental health issues including depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
This website is the mental health and crisis arm of the VA. It offers educational materials, resources, and actionable steps to take if you worry that you or someone you love is experiencing suicidal thoughts.
The Veterans Crisis Line is a hotline specifically for veterans and their family and friends. The hotline is confidential and free and can be accessed by phone, online chat, or text. To reach the hotline by phone, call 1-800-273-8255, click here for the online chat (http://www.veteranscrisisline.net/ChatTermsOfService.aspx), or text 838255.
While September is Suicide Prevention Month, our efforts cannot end on the 30th. Consider this month a challenge to continue learning and talking about suicide—especially in the military community—throughout the year.
Jo is the author of Jo, My Gosh! a blog about her journey as a newlywed military wife. When she’s not working from home, she’s writing, reading, trying new recipes, watching sports or cross stitching. Catch her on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook and say hi!