Here is Part II of our guest article by Jennifer McGregor on suicide 

Be aware of the warning signs of addiction and suicide 

Concerned loved ones can best help their military members when they are aware of the warning signs of addiction and suicide. It is important to note that many veterans will not ask for help or admit to their addiction or suicidal thoughts because they perceive those as weaknesses. They often also feel too ashamed to admit that they have a problem and need help.

Warning signs of substance abuse or addiction 
Veterans and active-duty military personnel may exhibit physical or behavioral symptoms of substance abuse or addiction that include, but are not limited to:

  • Needing to take more prescribed medication than normal
  • Bloodshot or glazed eyes
  • Dilated or pinpoint pupils
  • Abrupt changes in weight
  • Bruises, infections, or other physical signs of drug injection sites
  • Changes in personality
  • Increased aggression or irritability
  • Changes in attitude
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Sudden changes in friends
  • Dramatic changes in habits and/or priorities
  • Financial challenges
  • Involvement in criminal activity

Warning signs of suicide 

  • Hopelessness or talking about how there is no way out
  • Anxiety, agitation, sleeplessness, or mood swings
  • Feeling as though there is no reason to live
  • Rage or anger
  • Participating in risky activities without thinking
  • Increased alcohol or drug abuse
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Talking about death, dying, or suicide
  • Self-destructive behavior that involves drugs, alcohol, weapons, etc.

Where to turn for help

The MilitaryTimes reports that the Department of Defense has increased its suicide prevention and awareness campaigns to turn the tide in the suicide rate among active-duty military personnel and veterans. The DoD Suicide Prevention Office was established to raise suicide awareness and drive prevention efforts for the department and individual services.

Suicide prevention training is mandatory in all five branches of the military, including the Coast Guard. The DoD Suicide Prevention Office offers online resources for family and friends of military personnel who are concerned they may be having suicidal thoughts. And, the Veterans Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-273-8255, via online chat, or text message. They also offer online resources such as links to warning signs and suicide and crisis resources.

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Thank you to Jennifer for taking the time of of her busy schedule to help THFC! 

Jennifer McGregor has wanted to be a doctor since she was little. Now, as a pre-med student, she’s well on her way to achieving that dream. She helped create PublicHealthLibrary.org with a friend as part of a class project. With it, she hopes to provide access to trustworthy health and medical resources. When Jennifer isn’t working on the site, you can usually find her hitting the books in the campus library or spending some downtime with her dog at the local park.

 

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