Based on statistics, at least one US military veteran kills himself every 72 minutes. In fact, the Department of Veterans Affairs revealed that in the year 2014, approximately 20 veterans committed suicide each day. This is the latest statistics available on the matter. PTSD and depression are some of the possible causes of this high suicide number, which is why companies like BetterHelp.com have put a lot of resources into educating people about the importance and seriousness of depression.
David Shulkin, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, told The Hill (a political website in the US) that this is an unacceptable number. He said that that in order to cater to the problem, they are evaluating the factors and are looking into more researches and new treatments and therapies.
Defense Suicide Prevention Office shows the suicide report for the first quarter of 2017.
- 31 National Guard Suicides
- 20 Reserves Suicides
- 71 Active Duty Suicides
Risk Factors in War Veterans Suicide
According to University of Utah National Center for Veterans Executive Director, Dr. Craig Bryan, the following are the suicide risk factors for civilians, veterans, and soldiers:
- Have Psychiatric Trauma
National Center for Veterans Scientific Director and Co-founder, Dr. M. David Rudd, told Fox News that issues on suicide and PSTD or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder are not necessarily related to combat. It is stress and most probably depression during war time.
DSPO Director, Dr. Keita Franklin, said that suicide risks for active and reserve members are comparatively the same with the cases of the civilians. The difference though is that civilians have a high risk when they’re older compared to the service members.
Tackling Mental Health Issues
People that have PTSD usually deal with it with themselves and do not report it until the disorder is already severe. This is why it is harder to treat. Rudd suggests early reporting so that the treatment can be more effective. Franklin seconded the suggestion.
A crisis response plan or CRP is one of the most effective ways to help some veterans deal with stress, depression and its consequences. Index cards with mental health resources and other details are used. And based on a study, those who were given a CRP have 76% less tendency of attempting suicide. This method, along with other PTSD therapies, may help reduce the risk of suicide.
In the military, most of the suicides involve the use of privately-owned weapon. Despite that though, Franklin said that they try to take away methods that can be used for self-harm, including gun locks.
The use of weapons is not restricted, but simply a precaution. Messaging efforts about suicide also help, including using the following resources:
- Military OneSource Website
- Military Family Life Consultants
- Peer Support Line
- Embedded Behavioral Health Providers
- Treatment Facilities
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT is one of the best therapy methods that can help those with depression, PTSD, and suicidal thoughts. Counseling can also help depression and reduce suicide cases, but it would rely on how the person respond towards the therapy.
One form of CBT that can be used for stress and depression is the brief cognitive behavioral therapy, which is a shorter version. It is the most effective method that can target the main cause of the mental health problem. Since it is short-term, the program is comprised of 12 sessions only compared to years of treatment for other methods. Prolonged Exposure and Cognitive Processing Therapy may also be considered to cater PTSD and depression.