Service Related Suicide At All Time High-PTSD

January 4, 2013


I just heard that the service related suicides are at an all time high.  Of course, we all know that PTSD will factor into many of these incidents.  I believe that they said the figure was 178 this year alone.   The newsperson further stated that Congress is asking for explanations for why and what was being done to correct this problem.

First, I will say that I think that part of the problem is, that we are now treating our service people like they are part of the foreign legion.  We sign them up and make them serve tour after tour and pretty much forget about them.  When they finally come home, in order to navigate through the VA system to get benefits they have earned, is daunting if not dispiriting.

The Government is seeking answers to the PTSD problem in a one size fits all way of dealing with this issue.  I believe that PTSD will be a major player in the suicide struggle.  PTSD has many issues that must be dealt with and the first is the stigma attached to it.  By admitting to having problems, the PTSD sufferer anticipates that he will be labeled.   Admitting to PTSD problems means he is no longer an active macho soldier, no,  now he is defective.  This label stays on his/her permanent record and just like the stigma with all mental illness, psychotherapy is synonymous with “Crazy”. This labeling could get in the way of promotions while in the military and perhaps employment if he/ she leaves the military.

If there is no outlet for the feelings that the PTSD sufferer has, there is no end for it in sight.  The idea of never getting well is overwhelming.  Psychotherapy or the talking cure is the most powerful weapon in this fight.  But if the PTS sufferer will not admit to his/her problem how can we bridge this gap between illness and remedy?

There is a movie starring Bill Murray called “What About Bob”.  In this movie Bill Murry plays a mental patient who is treated by his therapist. The therapist suggests that the cure for Bob’s mental illness will be gotten by taking “baby steps”

We offer a possible beginning to further therapy. We have the Military PTSD Forum blog. This blog allows first for the PTSD sufferer to air his/her grievances or problems anonymously.  This will allow him/her the ability to self-reflect without penalty or judgement.  To be forced to open him/herself to face what is really going on is a freeing experience.  Sometimes this is enough, and many will never go a step further.  Their personal needs may be met by this blog alone and if and when the PTSD sufferer need an outlet again, it is always available . Upon discovering things that need to be further examined, it might encourage the PTSD person to seek further help from a trainedmental health professional. I know that therapy moved my mental well being along much further and faster than a diary or blog alone could accomplish. I also think, however, that by using it as a step in the right direction, what it did was to get me talking about what was bothering me and lowered my inhibitions toward seeing a psychologists. This blog then was a way to be introduced to further introspection.

I urge every PTSD person to come and blog.  It is still free and you can say as much or as little as you choose.  I would suggest that you post often but that is entirely up to you.  The more of your feelings that you are willing to risk, the more you will get hold of these feelings and start to make changes in yourself but more importantly for yourself.