According to recent media reports, military deaths from suicide this year surged to an average of 1 per day. That rate exceeds previous years by many percentage points. As a result, our military leaders have expressed concern.
“He was so afraid of how people would view him once he went for help,” one Army widow I heard interviewed on the radio, reported. She went on to say her husband feared people would see him as weak, as trying to get out of redeployment or the service, or that “he just couldn’t hack it.” She also described her husband as “sick,” having suffered a combat injury, and as having avoided treatment for his depression for years.
Men and women expected to overcome hardship, combat, and their own fear cannot overcome shame. They also fear seeking treatment would hinder promotion. Only military leaders can answer whether their fear is real or unfounded.
Combat is a classic example of an abnormal event of overwhelming stress. Other examples include neglect, and physical and sexual abuse. Any of those events, along with a specific set of symptoms, can result in what the mental health professionals diagnose as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
In the succession of four events, two natural disasters and two violent attacks, Job also underwent extraordinary, life-threatening situations, which, with other symptoms, could later set the stage for PTSD. We also know, like many in our military, he wanted to die (Chapter 3).
Next blog we look at what helped.