Letter Dec. 3, 2013
Date posted: December 3, 2013
Reach out to vets;
provide counsel, help
Re: PTSD-related suicides
On Nov. 9, my nephew, 27, a veteran of the Iraq war, took his own life. He had been struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for the past several years and was being treated for that all-too-common side effect of war but to no avail. Sadly, not all scars from the battlefield can be seen and not all wounds heal.
Suicide is one of those things that happens in other families and when it does, I believe we as a society have a tendency to quickly sweep it into the family closet and close the door where it is not discussed for fear of embarrassment or social stigma. Recent articles in The Sheridan Press have shown that suicide is a big problem in our community with Wyoming ranked number one in the nation in self-inflicted deaths. I firmly believe that suicide, especially at the hands of our nation’s veterans, needs to be a topic elevated in our social discourse. In this regard, I would ask Press readers:
• If you know of anyone who is thinking about suicide to seek out professional help. Talk to them. Reach out. Don’t avoid the issue in the hope that it will just “go away.” It won’t.
• If you know someone who has lost a loved one to suicide, vet or non-vet, reach out to them as well and keep them in your prayers.
• Never let an opportunity slip by to thank a vet or their families for the sacrifices they make daily on our behalf. Those sacrifices do not always end the day the vet returns home. PTSD is real and suicide among our men and women in the military now accounts for more fatalities than the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan combined (Time, July 23, 2013).
We owe our wounded warriors our sincere thanks, a helping hand, a shoulder to cry on, and an ear to listen to their struggles.
It is a small price to pay for what they have done for us. The same can be said of our neighbors and friends who are not in the military but are struggling with thoughts of suicide. Let us all be open to their needs and keep them in our prayers.