Friday, November 23, 2018

Suicide awareness groups failed us!

To families left behind after suicide

Combat PTSD Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
November 23, 2018

Eighteen years ago, losing a member of the family to suicide caused a flood of questions to begin. To this day, I am still waiting for the answers to come.

It was not just a matter of not knowing how to get my husband's nephew to listen that caused guilt to boil up. It was the fact that I had been fully invested in PTSD work for many years. I could get strangers to listen and find hope. I could not fuel that hope in our nephew.

I understand the need to do something to prevent other suicides. It is almost as if the death would have no meaning if we do nothing. The problem is, doing something can be worse than nothing to others.

I had first hand knowledge of what trauma did because I survived many times as a civilian. I knew what TBI was, because I had it. So please, take what this "expert" has to share after 36 years of work.

That chart shows the size of the military members being reduced.
This chart also shows the size of military being reduced by suicide. It has been an average of 500 per year since 2012.

Those men and women should still be here, but they are not. They valued life so much, they were willing to die to save someone else. They did not value their own enough to ask for help. This is after over a decade of "resilience" training they received to "prevent" suicides with over 900 programs being offered and paid for by the Department of Defense.

DOD programs added to the stigma of PTSD and they were taught to be "resilient" before the effort was proven to provide what it was supposed to do. But that did not really matter considering there were Generals telling the service members it was their fault because they were not mentally strong enough to take it.

That sums up what has been going on within the military. It also shows what has been happening in the veterans' community.

This is a chart from the VA released in the latest suicide report.
Notice as the number of known suicides did not change much, the number of living veterans dropped by over 4 million, which increased the percentage of suicide deaths.

The vast majority of known suicides occurred many years after they left the military, with over half being committed by veterans over the age of 50.

We tend to want to do something to prevent other families from going through what we did. We do all kinds of things to "raise awareness" that it is happening, but few do any real research to know the number most people talk about, is not even close to the truth. Plus, the one that was part of our family, is the number each of us focus on.

We share our loss once we get the fact there is nothing for us to be ashamed of. We did the best we could with what we knew at the time. However, that does not qualify us to start campaigns or raise funds for what we want to do with that pain. We will only end up sharing misery while doing nothing to actually change the outcome. 

Before we can actually prevent suicides, we have to invest the time in learning how to do it. Otherwise our only experience is in what already failed.

Suicide awareness campaigns are failures. The numbers prove that.

It is our job to fight against people taking the easy way to make money off our pain. If there is a "suicide awareness" event in your area, contact the media and let them know you need accountability from them. Make reporters actually do their jobs.

You need to know where the money is going and what qualified them to be worthy of the funds. Have a list of questions you want answered and then ask the fundraisers. 

Research the facts and stop supporting what already failed too many other families like yours. Then remember, they failed your family before you lost someone you love.

Contact your elected official and make them to their jobs since Congress has had jurisdiction over the military and the VA all these years. 

Do not be sold on anyone telling you that privatizing the VA is a good thing, especially when veterans should never be treated like civilians. Civilian therapists do not understand military culture.

As important as it is for us to want to break the silence of PTSD and suicides, it is more important for us to actually learn how to prevent other families from having to suffer our fate.

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