PSTD (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome) is a very real ailment suffered by those returning from active duty military service, especially those who have served in combat zones like Iraq and Afghanistan.
Before they were famous, many truly influential men and women started by serving their country in the US military or grew up in military families.

As Military Suicide Rises Officials Advise on Prevention

PSTD (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome) is a very real ailment suffered by those returning from active duty military service, especially those who have served in combat zones like Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Defense Department has dealt with rising suicide numbers during years of protracted war in Afghanistan and Iraq. While individual service branches have tracked suicides for years, in 2008, the Defense Department began using a standard form for collecting information called the Department of Defense Suicide Event Report or DoDSER.

The 2019 DoDSER showed disturbing information about military suicides.


A strong finding from the 2010 reports: 34 percent of those military servicemembers who took their own lives communicated their intentions to someone, most commonly to their spouse or a friend

In 2009, the figure was 28 percent. In fact, one third of military personnel who committed suicide in 2010 had told at least one person they planned to take their own lives.

Nearly half went to see medical personnel, behavioral health specialists, chaplains or other service providers sometime in the 90 days before they died, according to the 2010 Department of Defense Suicide Event Report.


Richard McKeon, chief of the Suicide Prevention Branch at the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, noted that physical health care personnel, counselors and other providers need to monitor their programs and look for improvements.

"(Providers) need to be aware.and need to be regularly evaluating their efforts on what is working or what is not," McKeon said.

The 250-page report analyzed 295 confirmed or "strongly suspected" suicides that were reported last year, down from 309 the year before. Caucasian service members under age 25 and in the lower ranks were at the highest risk.

The 2010 total included active-duty, reserve and National Guard personnel, a slight downward revision from the previous year's 301 suicides the Defense Department reported, which included about 70 incidents still under investigation.

About 46 percent of those who had committed suicide in the military in 2010 had been seen at a military treatment facility sometime in the 90 days before death. The treatment services include physical and behavioral health, substance abuse, family advocacy and chaplains.


If you suspect depression in any servicemember, "it's important to ask about it," McKeon said.

Fort Carson, Colo., uses the Army's Ask, Care, Escort program, or ACE. It teaches all soldiers to ask whether someone is contemplating suicide, show concern if they are and escort them to a superior officer or service provider.

"Ask directly: `Are you thinking of killing yourself?'" said Kim Henry, the substance abuse program manager at Fort Carson. " Not, `Are you thinking of hurting yourself,' (but) 'Are you thinking of killing yourself?'" she said.

Fort Carson has reported one soldier suicide as of October 2011; for 2010, the post had reported seven suicides.

All branches of the military have programs designed to educate everyone in suicide prevention.

If you are having suicidal thoughts or know or suspect that someone you know in the military is contemplating suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline without delay: 800-273-8255.


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