Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Suicide Awareness: Lost on a road to No Place Good

How do we know suicide awareness does not work?

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
July 21, 2019

"It is time for us "others" to step up and begin to communicate a much different message to veterans."
We know suicide awareness does not work because of the results. Much like the report out of Alabama with higher veteran suicide numbers "awareness" raising began. They did not need to become aware they were killing themselves. They needed to be made aware of how to stay alive.

Specialist Ricardo Acosta was one of them. He went to the VA for help but did not receive all the help he needed.
Ricardo was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. He attended therapy sessions through the Veterans Affairs Administration and was prescribed medication.

“What most definitely did not help was their answer to soldiers returning with PTSD is to throw them on a myriad of drugs. And that is a downward spiral," his mother stated.

Sixteen days before his 29 birthday, Ricardo took his own life.

“The demons fought too hard and he fought so hard for many years and he lost," Lynn said. It left Ricardo’s family, including his mother and three younger sisters torn. 
“We’ll never be the same. There’s a missing piece.” posted an article on military suicides that uses the data from 2017. Not sure why, other than the report for 2018 should have been released long before this. Still no clue where that report is.

The headline of the article is New Military Suicide Report May Revive Debate Over Gun Restrictions
but it was not the new report researchers have been looking for.

It has been reported that the number of suicides within the military have gone up for all branches. Active duty suicides for soldiers went up 20% for 2018.

The report from 2017 shows that suicide awareness has not worked, and there is every indication from what we know about 2018, the results are backwards. Reminder, these results are more current than from the VA.

Occurrence of Non-Fatal Suicide Attempts
Over the course of CY 2017, 1,397 non-fatal suicide attempts were identified. The associated DoDSER forms provided data on suicide attempts for 1,342 unique individuals since more than one attempt per individual could have occurred.

The reports from the VA on suicides have been years behind the deaths, limited data submitted by some states and leave out too many facts. Among them, are the number of veterans without honorable discharges, because none of them are counted. States like California and Illinois were not in the reports because they passed legislation in 2017 to include military service on death certificates. 

National Guard and Reservists are not counted unless they were deployed into combat. Responding to natural disasters and humanitarian missions do not "qualify" them as veteran.

Vermont is another state with a high veteran suicide rate. Josh Pallotta was in the National Guard and was deployed.
Soon, his mother said, Josh lost motivation and purpose in life. In September 2014, he ended his life. He was 25.

Valerie had not spoken with her son during the nine months before he took his own life. She took a tough love approach, hoping Josh would buck up. But that backfired on her, and she has had to live with a terrible sense of guilt, she said.

What’s worse, she said, time doesn’t heal.
His Mom, Valerie, is left with all that because no one told her how to help her son heal. How is it that keeps getting missed in all of this reporting on veterans killing themselves?

We had the same issues when all other generations came home. What we also had was a strong desire to change the conversation from whispering about suicides into screaming about healing.

Point Man International Ministries started in 1984 when a Seattle Police Officer was tired of arresting other veterans. His mission was to show them the way to taking back control of their lives from PTSD and being defined as saved survivors.

The approach was simple, basic and powerful. To heal veterans, Bill knew it required healing the spirit, soul and body instead of being left out by mental health providers.

Lives were changed! Now I read all these reports and it rips me up inside knowing how many lives have been saved, families empowered to fight this battle and change the outcome. 

We will never save their lives by talking about them choosing to die after they risked their lives for the sake of others.

The Department of Veterans Affairs campaign "Be There" will do little good unless those who are supposed to be there know how to help. Given the results it is clear far too many are doing whatever they want to do, and end up doing more harm than good.

I feel like a little kid on a long family trip..."are we there yet" pops into my brain as I wonder why so many of us are "there" while far too many are still finding themselves lost on a road to No Place Good.

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