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Military Connection: Military Suicide Spike: By Debbie Gregory

Military funeralSuicide now tops the list of the leading causes of death among military service members.

American civilians have seen the public service announcements on military suicides. Veterans remember the briefings and the countless number of AFN commercials on the subject. And today’s service members are constantly trained on recognizing the signs of suicide among their comrades, and the resources that are available to them if they or someone they know should need help. But for all the awareness, for all of the effort, our service members are losing the war against suicide.

An October, 2014 article in the Pentagon’s Medical Surveillance Monthly Report (MSMR) provides eye-opening data on just how unsuccessful the results of the battle against military suicide are.

Before the current period of war, suicide was already the third-highest cause of death in the U.S. military. From 1998-2003, suicide was listed behind accidents and illnesses.

Not surprisingly, from 2004-2011, war was the leading cause of death. This span covers the height of fighting wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Suicide remained the third leading cause of death through this time period, behind illness.

But in recent years, the number of military deaths by suicide has exceeded those by war, accidents and illnesses, to become the leading cause of service member deaths. Approximately three out of every ten service member deaths are due to suicide.

The report cites data from Department of Defense Suicide Event Reports (DODSER). These reports revealed that between 2010 and 2012, there were 2,553 suicide attempts and 812 suicides within the military. The DODSER data also reflects that there were 53.6 suicide attempts  and 17.1 suicides per every 100,000 service members.

The vast majority of suicide activity occurred away from combat zones. According to the report, 85% of the suicide attempts and 83% of the  suicide deaths took place on U.S. soil.

Every suicide is a preventable death, especially when the bulk of those deaths are happening on our installations and in our communities. Please remain vigilant for the sake of the men and women in uniform, especially those of you in and near the military community.

If you observe someone who is in trouble, please refer them to the Crisis Hotline at www.veteranscrisisline.net or 1(800) 273-8255 (then 1). Those in need can even text to 838255 or utilize the Confidential Veterans Chat option.

The Crisis Line is for current military, Veterans and their families, but anyone can call for help for themselves or others contemplating suicide. All calls, texts, and chats are confidential.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Military Suicide Spike: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: You Still Have “The Power of 1” By Debbie Gregory

Still power of 1In September, Military Connection announced the launch of “The Power of 1,” a campaign administered jointly by the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The idea of the Power of 1 emphasizes the belief that one person has the power to recognize warning signs, intervene, create a dialogue, or make a phone call to save someone in crisis. No one can do everything, but everyone can do something. It only takes one person or one single action to save another person’s life.

But as one suicide by a Veteran or member of the military is one too many, it is necessary to keep reminding those in crisis about the peer support and resources offered by the VA and the DOD.

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in America among all ages and ethnicities. And it is unbearably high in military and Veteran communities. But by using the mentality instilled in service members since boot camp to look out for their comrades, the Power of 1 campaign is hoping to sharply reduce the number of suicides among active and former military members. It’s just a matter of looking out for one another.

Some indicators that your buddy may be considering suicide include talking about suicide, making plans, stockpiling medications, and withdrawing from people and activities that were previously enjoyable. People at risk for suicide could also be going through the loss of a loved one, relationship issues, financial difficulties, drug/alcohol problems, legal trouble, medical problems and more.

The Power of 1 campaign is designed to empower individuals who see these indicators, and give them the tools to help, and possibly save a life, just as they would have done in combat. The campaign encourages those needing help, or witnessing comrades in crisis, to utilize the many resources available, such as chaplains, military family life consultants, mental health clinics, peers, community support organizations, Vets4Warriors and especially the Military/Veterans Crisis Line.

When people call the Military Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255, and press 1, they can have a confidential conversation with a peer counselor specifically trained to deal with any crisis or stresses the service member, Veteran, or family member may be facing. Calls to the crisis line are free, confidential, with trained professionals 24 hours/day, 365 days/year.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: You Still Have “The Power of 1” By Debbie Gregory