If you or someone you love is contemplating suicide or experiencing a psychological health crisis, contact the Military Crisis Line at 800-273-8255, press 1 or visit militarycrisisline.net.
The crisis facing our military is one with no easy answers. The Defense Department runs 900 suicide prevention programs, yet the number of military suicides has more than doubled since 2001. A new study by the U.S. government on suicide among military veterans shows more veterans are killing themselves than previously thought, with 22 deaths a day, or one every 65 minutes, on average. The U.S. military reported that suicides hit a record in 2012, outpacing combat deaths, with 349 active-duty suicides, almost one a day.
We read more and more about the alarming numbers and what is being done. As with anyone who needs support, seeking help is NOT a sign of weakness. We need to eliminate the perception that seeking mental health care could cripple a career and lead to loss of a security clearance. It's time to eliminate the "mental health care" stigma.
The Marine Corps has developed policies and programs to make all Marines responsible for the mental health of their fellow troops. Brig. Gen Robert Hedelund, director of Marine and family programs, told a hearing, “Marines are taught to know each other at a personal level -- to know their behavior patterns and their likes and dislikes so that they can identify even subtle changes,” and then aid them in seeking help if suicide warning signs occur.
The Marines also operate a 24/7 anonymous peer counseling help line that “gives any Marine, attached sailor, or family member ‘one of their own’ to speak with about everyday stress or their heaviest burdens in life.” The Army has set up a confidential support crisis hotline that uses local cell phone providers in Afghanistan to connect soldiers at remote posts with peer counselors.
The Air Force is working with the Rand Corp. research company to determine how social media can help promote the emotional wellbeing of its personnel. The Marines have kicke_d off a project to use text messaging to send supportive “care letters” to troops.
The Defense Department has partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Veterans Affairs Department to determine the cause of veteran and troop deaths back to 1979, including Guard and Reserve personnel. The department will use CDC’s National Death Index to develop a Suicide Data Repository.
The Army has an “unprecedented” study under way to help it determine the factors and conditions that lead to soldier suicides. The Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers (STARRS), which kicked off five years ago, has analyzed information from nearly 40 Army and Defense Department datasets, spanning more than 1 billion records on all 1.6 million soldiers who served on active duty from 2004 to 2009.
This is the largest study of mental health, psychological resilience, suicide risk, suicide-related behaviors and suicide deaths in military personnel ever conducted and it will help identify risk factors for suicide. The Army will then use this data to develop strategies to decrease the frequency of suicides.
The Military section will be a dedicated resource to the effort of taking care of those who protect us.
I encourage you to share any sites or information that can be helpful and I will list it.
Service Specific Programs:
Air Force Suicide Prevention
Army Suicide Prevention Program
Marine Corps Suicide Prevention
Navy & Marine Corps Suicide Prevention
All military families can speak to a trained professional 24/7 for free by contacting:
• The Military Crisis Line (visit the Military Crisis Line Chat or call 800-273-TALK to talk with a crisis counselor)
• The DCoE Outreach Center (visit Real Warriors Live Chat or call 866-966-1020 to talk with a health resource consultant)
• Military OneSource (call 800-342-9647 for one-on-one counseling)
Additionally, there are service-specific resources available to military families, including:
• Air Force Readiness Centers
• Army Family Readiness Group
• Marine and Family Suicide Prevention Tools
• Navy Fleet and Family Readiness Program
Addiction and Suicide Amongst Veterans: Finding Hope in the Darkness: Discusses the link between PTSD and substance abuse and how there are many ways our heroes can find the support that they need and how we can reach out to them as well.
Defense Suicide Prevention Office
Defense Centers of Excellence
U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs
Post-Deployment Stress (What Families Should Know, What Families Can Do)
The Wingman Project