Suicide warning signs and risk factors
Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem or feeling. At FOB Rasor, we want to intervene before the risk factors and behaviors escalate. Staying connected with Vets and First Responders with shared experiences can reduce escalation and improve mental health wellness.
What causes our Vets and First Responders to kill themselves?
There is no single cause for suicide amongst our Nations Heroes, but the feeling of hopelessness and despair is a certainly a commonality amongst those at risk. Depression is the common condition involving those who kill themselves. When our Heroes face unaddressed depression, anxiety, and substance abuse, the risk of one of these Gladiators killing themselves is elevated. Most of the Warriors that actively manage their conditions not only continue to march, but commonly develop a certain motivation for life that they previously could not see.
What are the risk factors found in our nation’s Heroes?
Untreated Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) can be an absolute hell to deal with. Nightmares, anxiety, depression, and being on high alert or the constantly scanning of threats is exhausting. The Warrior with PTS, may create emotional distance from their closest friends and family. Personality traits of aggression, mood swings and emotional outbursts are often associated with PTS.
Chronic pain and/or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) are commonly experienced by our Combat Veterans. The constant feelings associated with these ailments can become overwhelming and leave one with a feeling of hopelessness.
Drug and alcohol abuse are often used as means of self-medication. The Warrior often becomes physically and mentally addicted in his or her efforts numb themselves from PTS, TBI and the physical pains they endure.
Are there some warning signs?
Yes, in many of the previous incidents involving our nation's heroes there is a change in behavior. If a new or changed behavior is correlated with a painful event, loss or change, we ought to be concerned.
If a Veteran or First responder begins to talk of killing themselves, hopelessness, being a burden, trapped or in unbearable pain he or she should be considered as someone in terrible need of help.
Certain behaviors are also considered as red flags. Increased drug and or alcohol are often ways of trying to self medicate. Withdrawing from previously enjoyed activities, isolating, sleeping entirely too much, giving away prized possessions, aggression and fatigue are all behaviors that should be considered very relevant.
When someone is considering killing themselves they often display feelings of anxiety, humiliation, shame, and agitation. If someone you know is displaying these types of moods you need to consider these as pertinent issues. If seemingly out of nowhere, the Veteran or First Responder starts displaying relief from these issues you must consider that he or she has made a decision to kill themselves.
What do you do if you have concerns?
You have to talk with them! Find a private location and be absolutely blatant. Ask them, “Are you thinking about or do you plan to kill yourself?” You have to assume that you are the only person that has the intestinal fortitude to reach out and ask. Listen to them! Let them know you care about them. Encourage treatment for them. Do not debate the value of life, minimizing their problems or giving advice.
If they are considering killing themselves you have to take it seriously! Stay with them and take away any lethal means. Call or even text the Suicide and crises line at 988. Again, you have to act like you are the only person that is strong enough to handle this situation. Escort them to mental health services or an emergency room.
For more information please check out the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Adapted from American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.