For many veterans they return physically to civilian life but parts of their minds remain on the battlefield. Post-traumatic stress disorder affects about 12% of veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan but over their lifetimes as many as 30% of Vietnam War veterans have had to deal with PTSD. Recent studies have shown that veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder were nearly sixty percent more likely to commit suicide than their peers who do not suffer from PTSD. When does PTSD lead to veteran suicide and when does it not.
Numb and Detached
Researchers who looked at the connection between PTSD and veteran suicide noted that the single strongest indicator of suicide in PTSD sufferers was saying yes on a questionnaire when asked if they felt numb or detached from surroundings, activities, or others. When screening for PTSD was positive it was related to an immediate higher risk of 58 to 90% of suicide and this increased likelihood persisted for three years although it tended to decrease. The researchers felt so strongly about their findings that they strongly recommended immediate suicide risk assessment for anyone testing positive.
Suicide in the USA and Among Veterans
In the USA women are more likely to attempt suicide than men and men are more likely to complete the task. And PTSD increases the likelihood to suicide. These factors apply to both non-veterans and veterans. The fact is that many people get depressed and many suffer from severe depression. Many veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and many suffer from severe cases. Why does one veteran continue to seek help or simply endure while another decides to end it all? Availability of the means to end it all and the capacity to use those means (firearms) play a role. So do drugs and alcohol which are too often used to “treat” symptoms of depression and PTSD. However, the common thread for when PTSD leads to suicide is commonly a loss of hope. Hope is the expectation that something (recovery from depression or PTSD) can and will happen, trust that by following a path to recovery a veteran will become whole again. When hope is gone a veteran may decide that there is no point in going on passively and enduring so they take matters into their own hands and end it all.
There Is Hope for Veteran Depression, PTSD, and Suicide
At No Fallen Heroes we have dedicated ourselves to helping veterans suffering from the negative effects of their service to our nation and, specifically, preventing veteran suicide. Veterans with PTSD and veterans who are contemplating suicide can find hope in the realization that there are ways to help reduce the ongoing trauma of depression, PTSD, traumatic brain syndrome, social isolation, and more. As frustrating as it may be to keep looking for help and not finding it, a veteran must never give up hope.
New and Effective Treatment of PTSD
When a veteran suffers from memories of the traumas of their years in service these traumas become ingrained in their memory. The amygdala which is an emotional control center in the brain gets “wired” to keep repeating the trauma and making any attempt to think about the past and sort it out a psychologically painful experience. Thus, many vets avoid talking about the past and end up being trapped there. There is new evidence that, of all things, psychedelic medicines can help this issue. Pharmaceutical grade psychedelic medicines taken in therapeutic amounts have been shown to reduce the stress of talking about and dealing with past trauma and the effect of a single dose can last for a month or more. Thus a vet who suffers from PTSD or severe depression can talk to someone, feel less isolated, and gain hope from the improvement they feel from talking out their past trauma, putting it in perspective, and then getting it out of their daily life.
Our work at No Fallen Heroes is first to get the word out that there is hope for vets who suffer from severe depression, social isolation, PTSD, traumatic brain syndrome and all of the other troubles that all-too-often follow vets into civilian life. We are strong promoters of the use of psychedelic medicines to go to the root of how PTSD and severe depression destroy veterans’ lives and bring them to contemplate suicide as what they believe to be their only option. The fact is that there are options other than suicide and our job is to bring that message to vets so that there will be no more fallen heroes.