More veterans of the War on Terror have committed suicide than died in military service by any means. Although in the last couple of years the suicide rate has declined a little the rate of suicide amount recently discharged veterans has gone up. There are many factors affecting this problem including knowing just how accurate the data is that is submitted by various state health departments. The sad fact is that because of underreporting by local medical examiners, the rate of veteran suicide could actually be twice the reported rate of about 6,000 a year. The bottom line is that veteran suicide is an epidemic and needs to be dealt with effectively. A top priority at this time is to sort out the most effective means of preventing veteran suicide and employ those means in preference to less-effective ways to save veterans’ lives.
Efforts and Means of Preventing Veteran Suicide
One of the things that has emerged from studying veteran suicides is that integrating social services with health services provides better outcomes for less cost and less strain on already-taxed health care systems. The point is that many veterans who would benefit from available health care and psychiatric care services do not get help because they do not know about the services or otherwise fail to access this level of help. We have written about social isolation as a factor in veteran suicide and here is part of where that fits in.
Ask the Question
A specific approach that has shown promise in this regard is the “Ask the Question” approach in several forms. Health and Human Services departments at the county level are well positioned to work with veterans, especially those recently discharged from military service. Their primary function is to connect to county level VA resources, Health and Human Services Departments for referral to appropriate help within that system. A key part of this approach is for there to be a real live person who is concerned about the veteran, in routine contact with them, and willing to “ask the question” in regard to how they are feeling, coping, and if they have thought of ending it all.
Adopt a Vet
The “Adopt a Vet” program is an excellent example of connecting vets to members of the community for work, companionship, and social support. These veteran relationships can be as distant as being a pen pal and as close as taking a vet out to eat or buying them food, clothing, shoes, toiletries. Taking a vet out to a social gathering and introducing them to others is an excellent way to break the cycle of social isolation that all-too-often is a risk factor for veteran suicide.
Identifying and Treating Suicide Risk Factors
The things that we have mentioned deal with getting the vet connected to people and to the kind of help they need. Next, it is important to recognize that too many vets leave the service but their military service experiences never leave them. Depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance abuse follow service members into their civilian life. Recognizing that a vet has a treatable condition as opposed to thinking “that is just how they are” is critical to getting help.
Psychedelic Medicines for Vet Suicide Prevention
Psychedelics have come full circle from the Vietnam Era of anti-war protests fueled by LSD and other psychedelics to the medicinal use of psychedelics like MDMA and psilocybin to effectively treat PTSD, depression, and substance abuse today. At No Fallen Heroes we are dedicated to the prevention and elimination of Veteran Suicide. We encourage you to join us in our quest. Adopt a vet, contribute to our or other programs that help vets, talk to your congressman or congresswoman about fast tracking passage of psychedelic medicines through FDA trials and beefing up support for community programs that keep in touch with veterans, help identify when they are in trouble, and help them get the assistance that they need and deserve.
Some will question the use of psychedelics for treating our military heroes. The fact is that psychedelics are used in pharmaceutical grade and targeted single doses as adjuncts to professional psychotherapy (talk therapy) and are hugely effective in helping the vet bring up old and painful memories, deal with them, and put them to rest so that they can completely transition into a happy and successful civilian life.