Stupid stigma of PTSD is missing link
September 9, 2019
When I first began to research PTSD, it was for very selfish reasons. I was falling in love with a Vietnam veteran. The more I learned about PTSD, the more I loved him. Simple as that.
That was 37 years ago, and we are celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary this month. Anyone who still suggests that having PTSD is something to be ashamed of, remind them there is no shame in being a survivor.
Researchers in Colorado found that most veterans did not seek help for PTSD because of the stigma attached to it.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - A new study released by the Colorado Health Institute last week focused on veterans and suicide, and why the rate in Colorado is higher than the nation's. The study found that nearly seven out of 10 veterans in Colorado who did not receive the mental health care they needed reported stigma-related reasons as a barrier. That's nearly double the percentage compared to non-veterans.
Who put the stigma there? Who gave it such great power that it can prevent veterans from asking for help?
The thing is, what works would work a lot better, if what failed was no longer allowed to get in the way.
While the Veterans Crisis Line has helped reduce the number of veterans completing suicide, it is an example of how bad it actually is for veterans.
Since its launch in 2007, the Veterans Crisis Line has answered more than 3.9 million calls and initiated the dispatch of emergency services to callers in crisis more than 119,000 times. The Veterans Crisis Line anonymous online chat service, added in 2009, has engaged in nearly 467,000 chats. In November 2011, the Veterans Crisis Line introduced a text messaging service to provide another way for Veterans to connect with confidential, round-the-clock support and since then has responded to nearly 123,000 texts.If the VA Crisis Line was not there, the numbers we are seeing would be even higher. A lot of the programs the VA has work great, but the majority of veterans in this country do not use the VA for anything. Again, there is a stigma attached to that too. (see below)
We know that suicide awareness does not work.
Letting veterans know they are killing themselves makes no sense at all. If the goal is to educate the civilian community, again, it makes no sense since the number of civilians committing suicide has also increased. It seems to only benefit those doing the events to raise money and gain fame. How? Because according to the VA, the known number of veterans committing suicide has remained between 20 and 22 since 1999...when no one was making citizens aware it was happening and there were over 5 million more veterans alive at the time.
This stuff also gets in the way.
While we are trying to #breakthesilence to prevent suicide, it seems that some have embraced it.
Silent Watch Raises Awareness For Veteran Suicide
They want people to stand in silence for 15 minute shifts. Silence contributed to the end of those who lost hope.
With the VA Crisis Line being reached by almost 4 millions calls, now members of congress are pushing for a three digit number.
Advocates Hope For A 'Turning Point' In Suicide Prevention With 988 Crisis Hotline Number "Samaritans has one of three call centers in Massachusetts that receive calls from the national hotline, which can currently be accessed by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Samaritans also receives calls and texts from its own local hotline number, 1-877-870-HOPE (4673)."
Will it help? Maybe but as long as the stigma is there, it will not help as many as it could.
There needs to be a massive effort addressing the stigma itself, because if they actually understand what PTSD is, then the stigma dies...but they stay alive.
Most veterans do not understand that PTSD is not self-inflicted. It hit them! The only way to get PTSD is surviving something traumatic. The term itself means "after wound" and just a bonus reminder, trauma is Greek for wound.
As survivors, they already beat death once. More than likely they did not accomplish that on their own. They had help fighting that enemy and need help to fight this enemy too!