Friday, April 5, 2013

Suicidal Vet "So I can’t kill myself until Monday?"

Editor's note: If you ever feel suicidal and get this kind of response, which happens far too often, call 911 and don't wait! There is no excuse for this after billions of dollars have been spent and 40 years of research done in your name!

Suicide by Appointment
Source: In These Times
Published: Wednesday 27 March, 2013

In 1966 and 1967, I served in Vietnam as a point man for the 4th Infantry Division outside Pleiku. Since then I have been hospitalized in Veterans Administration (VA) psychiatric institutions for suicidal depression two times—once about four years ago after I tried to bleed out by cutting off my hand. I call PTSD an injury, not an illness, because it is an injury to the brain, to your emotional and psychological well-being.

The current practice is to treat the injury, not prevent it. Preventing PTSD would be simple: Don’t send people to war. Treating the injury is more difficult, and currently, the VA’s efforts are a failure.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, each day 22 soldiers from America’s present wars in Iraq and Afghanistan commit suicide. There are no such statistics for Vietnam veterans, although estimates from prominent doctors and organizations range from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands.
By the next day, I was creeping close to the edge: I could not shake the nightmares and the flashbacks to the jungle and cradling that young man. Dying seemed preferable to living, which is what suicide is all about. I finally called the VA to explain my situation and to make an appointment with the mental health clinic. The conversation went like this:
Me: I feel very suicidal and would like to make an appointment to see a doctor.

VA: I’m sorry, we can’t make an appointment for you.

Me: I have a very serious case of PTSD. I have been seeing doctors for 40 years. All I need is an appointment.

VA: Our policy has changed. Before you can get an appointment you must come in and be evaluated for suicide.

Me: How do I do that?

VA: Go to Building 61 and tell them that you are suicidal. Someone will see you and decide if you can get an appointment.

Me: OK. I will go out there now.

VA: I’m sorry, you can’t go now. It’s Friday, too late in the day, and they usually leave early. You’ll never get there in time.

Me: You don’t get it. I’m suicidal now. I need to see someone.

VA: You’ll just have to put that off until Monday.

Me: So I can’t kill myself until Monday?

VA: If you wait until Monday, maybe we can help. Just don’t show up between noon and one. Everyone is at lunch.
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