Suicide Risk More Pronounced for Veterans
> 5/11/2007 3:13:57 PM

In yet another report highlighting the unsatisfactory treatment of veterans with mental health issues, an internal review by Veteran's Affairs found that the risk of suicide is unacceptably high for soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. One of the main reasons for this is the fact that most veteran's health clinics do not offer sufficient treatment or assistance to soldiers suffering from PTSD and other anxiety/depressive disorders, even when they alert officials to their suicidal ideations.

This statement comes amid disturbing reports detailing the cases of clearly suicidal veterans who, due to a lack of resources, were forced onto a waiting list to receive treatment and took their own lives before that help arrived. The tragic, well-established relationship between PTSD, depression, substance abuse and suicide renders the institutional requirement that veterans demonstrate a "sustained sobriety" before receiving treatment ridiculous, if not outright neglectful. The vast majority of suicides occur late in the day after the significant consumption of alcohol, and both are notably more common among combat veterans. But 24-hour staffing and assistance at these centers is hardly satisfactory, and many veterans cannot get immediate help or counseling when they most need it. The prevalence of suicide among those who served in Vietnam is a frequently cited epidemic: precise numbers, unfortunately, are not available, but estimates range from 20,000 to more than 200,000 individuals who've committed suicide since returning from that conflict. Some dispute these numbers, claiming that veterans were no more likely to commit suicide than members of the civilian population.

The most important element in the suicide equation is the responsibility of acquiantances and mental health professionals to help the suicidal individual realize that the emotional valleys that accompany such ideations will pass and that recovery is not only possible but likely under the appropriate long-term treatments. Unfortunately, the 2006 Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act, a piece of legislation specifically designed to reduce the incidence of suicide among veterans, failed to move through Congress. In the midst of so many emerging stories about our veterans and the traumas they bring back home with them, we simply cannot overstate the absolutely pressing need to pass binding legislation and allocate funds allowing for more extensive, higher-quality, better-expedited care for those who serve our country overseas. The grand hypocrisy of empty political disputes about who "supports the troops" can be laid bare by case studies and statistics. An endless supply of negative news stories does not change the fact that we are effectively ignoring the severity of the mental illnesses that plague our returning soldiers. We can only hope that further tragedy will not be required to goad our government into action.

No comments yet.

Post Your Comments

Post a comment
Email Address:
Verification Code:
Input the 8 characters you see above:


Drug Abuse
Sexual Addiction
Eating Disorders
Alzheimer's Disease

About TOL | Contact Us | Defining Behavioral Fitness | For Healthcare Professionals | Links | Privacy Policy