In response to the recent announcement by the VA
(http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2016/07/07/veterans-suicides-young-men-women/86755132/) about the newly adjusted number of veteran suicides, here is an article written by pre-med student Jennifer McGregor. She highlights important information about veteran sucicide, warning signs, and how you can assist someone you suspect needs help.

This is a critical topic for The Home Front Cares, as 5% of our clients state that without our emergency assistance they were seriously considering death by sucicide. 

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Spotlight on Active Soldiers, Veterans, and Suicide: A Guide for Concerned Loved Ones 

For active-duty soldiers and veterans, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), separation from loved ones, and rigorous training take their toll. Sometimes, our brave men and women cannot handle the trauma, anxiety, depression, and flashbacks, and they turn to alcohol or other drugs in order to cope, especially when they return home. Unfortunately, the suicide rate among both active-duty personnel and veterans is concerning.

In fact, the number of active-duty servicemen and women who commit suicide has doubled since the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and the reserves saw a 23% increase in its suicide rate in 2015. We shed some light on active soldiers, veterans, and suicide in this guide for concerned loved ones, with the hope that you will be better equipped to help your member of the service lead a happy, healthy life.

Addiction and suicide often go hand-in-hand for soldiers and veterans

Service members whose PTSD goes undiagnosed or untreated are at the greatest risk for addiction. They often use alcohol or drugs in an attempt to relax or forget their traumatic experiences. They also may use alcohol or drugs to cope with returning to civilian life. If the service member is struggling with depression in combination with PTSD or other mental health conditions, he is at an increased risk of suicidal thoughts.

One report linked addiction to soldiers and veterans because they often return home with PTSD, a traumatic brain injury, or pain and use illegal or prescription drugs to manage their condition(s). The research shows that opioid use is on the rise among veterans, and opioid addiction in veterans was attributed to chronic pain or a psychiatric disorder.

Additional research shows that large-scale heavy drinking is an issue with military personnel, and binge drinking was prevalent, at 53%, in a sample of recently deployed service members with combat exposure.

Still other research reveals the link between PTSD and substance abuse. The risk of suicide among veterans is higher than among non-veterans, and the risk of suicide increases even more for those veterans with substance abuse disorders or addiction. In 2012, the number of military suicides exceeded the number of deaths in combat, and the most common method of suicide attempts was the use of drugs and/or alcohol.

There also is a strong connection between veteran substance abuse, depression, and suicide; one study showed that the rate of substance use disorders and depression has increased among active members of the military and that the rate of suicide across military services has increased since the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

 

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Email: info@thehomefrontcares.org

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