Showing posts with label suicides. Show all posts
Showing posts with label suicides. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

U.S. Rep. Susan Wild "without specific training in mental health, we cannot recognize and act on the warning signs"

Op-ed by U.S. Rep. Susan Wild: ‘I can only make sense of the loss of my partner in life if I can save someone else’s life’

JUN 30, 2019

I didn’t run for Congress thinking that suicide prevention and awareness would be a cornerstone of my platform. Yes, I was aware of the pressing problem of veteran suicide, and that the number of suicides has increased dramatically. Never, however, did I think that this issue would become so very personal to me. Sadly, on May 25th, it did. On that day, the person who was my best friend, confidante, and partner in life, took his own life.

I cannot begin to describe the impact of receiving a phone call from an unknown police officer, telling me that my beloved had committed suicide. Disbelief was my first reaction, so much so that I thought it was a prank call. Fairly quickly, however, my mind gathered the warning signs that had existed, and which, sadly, I did not act upon with enough urgency.

For those who think I am assigning blame to myself for this act, and who have rushed to reassure me that there was nothing I could have done to stop this act of madness, you should know I have gotten to a place of peace in terms of my role. Because I now realize that without specific training in mental health, we cannot recognize and act on the warning signs, unless we learn more.

So it has become a new part of my mission to do as much good as I can in this public position I now occupy. Having only recently experienced this tragic loss, I am not yet an expert on the subject. However, I intend to become one. I can only make sense of the loss of my partner in life if I can save someone else’s life, and, just as importantly, can save another family from the devastation of losing their loved one to suicide.
read it here

Monday, April 22, 2019

First Responders workshops for the stress of coping with danger

Workshops help first responders deal with stress

The Republic
By Mark Webber

Two upcoming workshops for local first responders will help them deal with the stress of coping with danger, chaos and tragedy which are part of their professions.
Mike Kutsko

Rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression among police and firefighters have been found to be as much as five times higher than the civilian population, said Columbus Deputy Fire Chief Mike Kutsko.

Workshops on Monday and Tuesday at Columbus City Hall are designed to help the first responders, and also their families, Kutsko said.

Until recently, most first-responders would never admit they have a problem. Good mental health is a prerequisite to working in police or fire operations, so there is fear of losing promotions – or worse – if someone admits feeling depressed or traumatized, Kutsko said.

"There is a big stigma with mental health," Kutsko said. "There’s a fear that others will look on you as if you are weak."
read more here

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Oregon taking a sledgehammer to suffering in silence

Oregon is trying to #BreakTheSilence

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
April 9, 2019

To tell the truth that is the way to save lives. #BreakTheSilence and make it safe for someone to talk about what is going on. Most of the time they just need someone to listen. 

But that is not all. They need the one listening to them to actually listen and not try to "fix them" or judge them, or look at their watch as if they want to be someplace else at that moment.

You need to know who to call if the person you are listening to needs more help than you can give.

There is only one reason a person decides that they do not want to try one more day. They ran out of hope that it would be any different than their worst day was. Help them know that there is hope and they do matter.

Whatever you do DO NOT KEEP SPREADING SUICIDE AWARENESS because all that does it let them know you did not care enough to not buy into the BS that has done more harm than good.

How do you break the silence? With the sledgehammer called knowledge that there is hope of healing! If you read this site with any frequency, you've read enough reports to know that Suicide Awareness does not work but Suicide Prevention does. 

We need to make sure we stay on top of what is actually going on so that the people in charge know if what they are doing is working or not.

After 37 years now, I can tell you, making them aware of other veterans who gave up on themselves is the last thing they need to hear. The first thing they need to hear is it is possible to #TakeBackYourLife and live a happier ever after.

Oregon newsrooms team up to 'Break the Silence' around suicide

KTVZ reports to focus on veterans helping veterans
By: Sarah Zimmerman, AP staff writer and KTVZ.COM
Posted: Apr 04, 2019

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — If you're a regular reader or viewer of your local news, it's likely you'll have a good sense of how many people died in a car crash or of a terminal illness. But it's less likely you'll hear when somebody dies by suicide.

It's partly because of a long-held rule across newsrooms not to report on most suicides, out of respect for the family and from the belief that reporting on the topic could have a "contagious effect" and inspire others to also take their own lives.

While there's some evidence for that logic, the nation's growing number of suicides has become difficult for reporters to ignore. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports the national suicide rate is at a 50-year high, climbing 33% since 1999. It's estimated 25,000 Americans died by suicide in 2016 alone.

"Journalists stopped covering suicide for some very good reasons," said Nicole Dahmen, an associate professor of journalism at the University of Oregon. "But the unintended consequence of that is that suicide has remained unreported, and death by suicide has been on the rise so much so that it's become a public health crisis."

The issue has prompted reporters in Oregon, which has a suicide rate 40% higher than the national average, to take a different approach to tackling the topic.

Over 30 newsrooms from around the state, including NewsChannel 21, are banding together in an unprecedented, weeklong reporting collaboration to shed light on suicide and its effect on the community. The project, known as "Breaking the Silence," will run from April 7 to 14 and involve newspapers, TV stations and student media organizations across Oregon.
read more here

BREAKING THE SILENCE: Rural areas have higher suicide rates

The Oregonian/OregonLive
By Carol Cruzan Morton
April 7, 2019
A focus on suicide prevention is showing results as Oregon combats one of nation's highest rates of suicide. This report lists resources to help.

Oregon’s suicide rate has been higher than the national average for the past three decades. More than 800 people killed themselves last year in Oregon.

The problem affects everyone. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people, but 90 percent of Oregon’s suicides are by people older than 25 years old. Most suicides are men, but it crosses social, economic, and geographic boundaries.

The highest rates are shared by groups with deep historical and cultural differences—white men and Native Americans. One in every five suicides is a veteran.

These heartbreaking statistics are part of a longstanding and perplexing pattern of higher suicide rates in the West. For decades, the western half of the country, stretching from Montana to Texas and west to California and Alaska, reported persistently higher suicide rates.

Now they are highest in the Rocky Mountain states and Alaska, with Oregon not far behind.

No one really knows why.
read more here

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

31 law enforcement officers have taken their own lives since 1-1-19

Local deputy's death sparks conversation about police suicides

KWTX 10 News
By Rissa Shaw
Feb 12, 2019
So far in 2019, at least 31 law enforcement officers have taken their own lives, including a young McLennan County jail deputy who graduated from the police academy less than a year ago.
WACO, Texas (KWTX) The recent death of a McLennan County deputy is creating awareness about police suicide.

"We deal with quite a few suicides in the county, but it's very different when one of your own people takes their own life," said Sheriff Parnell McNamara. "It's always a very sad thing when you lose one of your own."

For the third year in a row, police suicides have outnumbered line of duty deaths, according Blue H.E.L.P., a non-profit run by active and retired officers advocating for greater mental health resources for law enforcement.

"The heart of an officer is to do what is right by everyone and to do the best job that we can, and sometimes, we need help," said Lydia Alvarado, Chief of Police for the City of Bellmead.

Alvarado, who's been teaching mental health peace officer certification courses since 2003 and critical incident training (CIT) since 2005, is considered a local expert in mental health as it relates to law enforcement.
read more here

Thursday, January 31, 2019

"It doesn't go away at the end of the shift."

'I remember every tragic thing I've seen' - Local firefighters open up about mental health

News Channel 9
Kayla Strayer
January 30, 2019
"The worst things that I've personally seen are burn injuries to children," Hyman said. "Trauma to children, those are some of the worst ones."
The Chattanooga Fire Department launched a peer support program in an effort to help firefighters deal with the mental stress of their jobs. (Image: Jim Lewis)

It doesn't go away at the end of the shift. 

"I remember every tragic thing I've seen, especially kids," Lewis said.

Suicides among first responders are on the rise, says Chattanooga Fire Chief Phil Hyman.

"Our firefighter suicides throughout the nation have actually exceeded the line of duty deaths that we have," Chief Hyman said. "In 2017 we had 103 firefighter suicides, and only 93 line of duty deaths."

First responders deal with death and destruction, sometimes on a daily basis.

"We expose our members to a lot of bad stuff that's the nature of our job," Hyman said. "Most of the stuff you see you can't unsee."

Dallas Bay Volunteer Firefighter and Chaplain Jim Lewis says, "It's a slideshow in your head."

A sickening slideshow of tragic images.
read more here

Friday, November 23, 2018

First-responder from Collingwood died by suicide earlier this week

Sometimes it's not enough: how one PTSD survivor tries to save others

Barrie Today
Erika Engel
November 23, 2018

“Support for families is what we found was lacking,” said Angie Stevens, Bryan’s wife. While Bryan was first dealing with symptoms of PTSD and occupational stress, Angie didn’t know where to turn. “You go into this silent position because you don’t want to tarnish their image,” said Angie. “So you try to help them on your own.”

Bryan Stevens is the founder of Frontline Forward. Erika Engel/CollingwoodToday

A former air ambulance advanced care paramedic may no longer be treating wounds mid-air, but he is still caring for the wounded and broken.

Bryan Stevens is the founder of Frontline Forward, an organization and facility designed to support and educate front-line workers affected by occupational stress and dealing with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

He experienced PTSD first-hand and made the decision to retire early as a result. Through a support system, professional counselling, physical therapy, meditation and more, Stevens has learned to cope with PTSD and work through the symptoms.

“Thank God I battled through it, but it’s still a challenge,” said Stevens. “You can have all the right people around you and things to support you and still sometimes that may not be enough”

A first-responder from Collingwood died by suicide earlier this week. Mike Scott was a firefighter at Central York Fire Services in the Newmarket and Aurora area. Before that, he was a firefighter on The Blue Mountains Fire Department. Scott’s family asked for donations to Frontline Forward in lieu of flowers.

Stevens said Scott was a good friend, and the two talked often about working as a first responder and dealing with PTSD. Scott’s funeral is today, and Stevens came to Collingwood with his wife, Angie, to attend the service.

“It’s a heavy burden to carry all this hurt,” said Stevens, quoting a song by country singer Kevin Davidson, a former first-responder. “We have to come to understand we don’t need to carry all that burden.”

Understanding was the first hurdle for Stevens, a 30-year veteran paramedic with 12 years in Peel Region (Mississauga) and 18 years as an advanced care paramedic for Ornge based in London.
read more here

Monday, June 11, 2018

Florida went backwards on Suicide Prevention

Florida went backwards on Suicide Prevention
Combat PTSD Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
June 11, 2018
Suicide rates up 10 percent in Florida, CDC study shows
Suicide rates rose more 10 percent in Florida over a 17-year period, a new government study showed Thursday.
"Rates were up 10.6 percent from 1999 to 2016 according to the report from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention."

OK and yet, after being in Florida for 14 years, trained by most of the "experts" offering Crisis Intervention Training, topped off with being in this work for over 36 years, I am left with a gnawing thought. With all we've know for all they years we've known it, how has it gotten worse?

How is it that with so many running around Florida, and the rest of the country, screaming about suicide awareness, have not managed to learn anything before they decided to share their stunning lack of knowledge?

It isn't that we lack real experts. You know, like the ones who taught the classes I took, wrote the manuals I read and yes, gave presentations on what to do and when to do it.

Unfortunately, I have been to too many events where the self-claimed experts did not know much at all. Like the ones running around screaming about veterans committing suicide, using an "easy number to remember" as if that was all they were. Apparently these folks did not think they needed to know anything beyond what a reporter put into a headline.

Well, the above is a great example of what happens when people preach what they did not take the time to learn. 

Volusia County suicide rates continue to exceed state levels
Daytona Beach News Journal
Seth Robbins
June 11, 2018

“Take this with you, and take care of each other,” he said. “We have to watch out for each other, and we need to keep our eyes peeled and ears pricked to any signs of PTSD.”

Salvatore Gintoli spoke frankly to law enforcement and other first responders about mental illness and suicide — issues that often go undiscussed but are widespread.

Gintoli, a senior director of crisis services at Stewart-Marchman-Act Behavioral Healthcare, was leading a course that aims to provide the skills to recognize mental health issues and reduce the stigma that surrounds them.

“People need to understand that mental illness and substance abuse are not the result of character flaws or personal weakness,” he said. “These are medical illnesses that are treatable.”

A report released last week by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention was a stark reminder that suicide remains an intractable public health crisis and that there is still much to be done in addressing mental illness within the U.S. According to the report, the suicide rate increased 25.6 percent nationwide from 1996 to 2016, with only one state — Nevada — seeing its rate fall. Florida’s suicide rate increased 10.6 percent, though most states saw larger jumps.

The numbers came out at the same time people were mourning the deaths of celebrity designer Kate Spade and chef Anthony Bourdain, both of whom committed suicide. Their sudden deaths have received widespread attention, with fans of each expressing dismay and fond remembrances across social media.

“What happened is tragic,” said Kim Beck-Frate, licensed mental-health counselor in the traumatic loss program for Halifax Health Hospice of Volusia/Flagler.
read more here
So now were are left with veterans, first responders, families, all ready to accept the fact the jobs they decided to do could cost them their lives but end up facing the job itself was more dangerous off the clock and we wonder why. 

Too bad that I trained way back in 2008 to 2010 on how to help First Responders right there on the East Coast. 2008 with the International Fellowship of Chaplains, 2009 with Center for Disaster and Extreme Event Preparedness and a lot more conferences just like the one above. 

How is it that we seem to have gone backwards?

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Phoenix Police Department "Should Have Done Better" Just Words on PTSD Officers

It seems the Phoenix Police Department does not acknowledge the law, PTSD or even their officers.

"Phoenix officials need to fix what’s broken with its wounded PD" editorial by Ret. Master Police Officer Bill Richardson states the deplorable reality of what they say not meeting what they actually do.

This is what they had to say after Officer Craig Tiger committed suicide in 2014
In a statement from Phoenix Police Chief Joe Yahner regarding the current situation involving Sefranka, Yahner told KPHO News’ Donna Rossi in an email, “The Phoenix Police Department is committed to the well-being of its employees. The department has been working closely with city personnel and legal to find an appropriate resolution to the situation. I plan to meet with Detective Sefranka in the near future in an attempt to address his concerns.”
And this is what they said regarding that suicide.
Ex-Phoenix officer with PTSD dies in apparent suicide, CBS 5 News Phoenix November 20, 2014

A former Phoenix police officer who recently revealed his struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder to CBS 5 News has apparently taken his own life.

The death of Craig Tiger is being investigated as a suicide by Coconino County Sheriff's deputies. Tiger was found unresponsive in his vehicle over the weekend at his family's cabin in northern Arizona.

Tiger's death has sparked a debate about whether police departments do enough to care for officers after critical on-duty incidents.

The president of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, Joe Clure, said he believes Phoenix Police Chief Daniel Garcia and the Phoenix Police Department played a part in Tiger's death.

"We should have done a lot more for Officer Tiger than what we did," said Clure.
And this is what they ended up doing just a year later according to the letter by Richardson.
I can only imagine what it was like for Phoenix Police Officer Scott Sefranka when he realized he was about to die at the hands of an armed robber on New Year’s Eve 2013.

Sefranka was engaged in a life and death struggle when he lost his duty weapon and was shot twice in the torso. Two bullets from his pistol ripped through his body and left him near death. It was a miracle that he survived and has been able to return to work.

Sefranka was able to return to work as a missing persons detective that allowed him to use his police skills and still make a contribution. He could’ve easily taken a disability pension, but good cops don’t want to give up the fight.
After returning to work Sefranka was accompanied by Bigby, the support dog that helps him with the day-to-day stresses of recovering from the physical and mental wounds of near death experience. Bigby is a trained to be there for him at work at home.

But not anymore!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

But The Greatest Of These Is Their Love

But The Greatest Of These Is Their Love
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
November 4, 2015

They say there is no greater love than to lay down your life for the sake of your friends.
There is an even great love that never ends.
We're reminded everyday if we are willing to see
that some do it everyday for strangers like you and me.
Firefighters rush towards dangerous flames
while no one else knows their names.
The alarm sounds and they go to the unknown
not knowing if they will ever get back home.
Then they go back home at the end of their shifts
wondering all the time about what ifs.
They try to leave it all behind
but peaceful thoughts are sometimes hard to find.

They say there is no greater love than to lay down your life for the sake of your friends.
There is an even great love that never ends.
We're reminded everyday if we are willing to see
that some do it everyday for strangers like you and me.
Police officers watch over the street
for when criminals and victims meet
ready to put themselves in between
with deep love seldom seen
yet hated by many they still defend
knowing it could bring their own life to an end.
They believe we're worth the risks they take
and they do it for their blue family's sake.

They say there is no greater love than to lay down your life for the sake of your friends.
There is an even great love that never ends.
We're reminded everyday if we are willing to see
that some do it everyday for you and me.

In the military and National Guard
their lives are often very hard.
Men and women serve at home and in strange lands
just to give helping hands.
When nature strikes or terror takes the night
ready to do whatever it takes to make things right
they wait, they watch, they pray
this this will not be their last day.

They say there is no greater love than to lay down your life for the sake of your friends.
There is an even great love that never ends.
We're reminded everyday if we are willing to see
that some do it everyday for strangers like you and me.

They know the price they pay while they serve
yet they do not receive what they deserve.
All they wanted to do was save lives no matter the cost.
So why it is then we leave so many lost?
Searching for a way to be themselves again
for comfort, understanding and healing
just so they can stop fearing feeling.

They say there is no greater love than to lay down your life for the sake of your friends.
There is an even great love that never ends.
We're reminded everyday if we are willing to see
that do it everyday for you and me.

They all needed courage to do what they did
when they went toward danger while we ran and hid
and they survived it all somehow
left to wonder where are we now
they need help to heal their grief
and support to find relief.
We all had faith they'd show up and hope they would succeed
but we all forget there was love behind the deed.
How else could they do it so strangers could live
unless they had so much love to give?

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
John 15:13 New International Version (NIV)

Unless it is for strangers so we may live on.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 New International Version (NIV)

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Australia Paramedics High Suicide Rate

World first: Guideline to manage post traumatic stress disorder among emergency workers launched in Sydney Australia
Benedict Brook
OCTOBER 29, 2015
Sometimes that toll can be devastating. According to the National Coronial Information System, 110 Australian emergency service workers committed suicide between 2002 and 2012 — that’s one police officer, firerie or paramedic every six weeks.

Paramedic is one of the occupations with Australia’s highest suicide rates.
Picture: Marc McCormackSource:News Corp Australia
AS A paramedic, Jordan Emery was used to witnessing people in intense pain and raw grief at the very moment of their most desperate suffering. For the most part, he was able to manage his emotions and remain resolutely professional. But this call out was different.

“A motorcyclist was seriously injured,” Mr Emery told

“He had horrific injuries and he spoke to me a lot on the way to hospital. He had this very strong sense that he was dying, his injuries were consistent with that and he wanted me to tell his mum and brother how sorry he was for what had happened, how much he’d loved them and how good they’d been to him throughout his life.”

“He was the same age as my little brother,” a clearly moved Mr Emery said, “it was a dialogue between me and a complete stranger but it struck me because, in many ways, it felt like my little brother was lying there before me.”

Mr Emery said it was often those cases where the victim reminded them of someone in their own lives which affected emergency personnel the most — parents responding to an injured child, for instance, or an elderly person who had passed away who was the same age as their own parents.
“In the past, there might have been this idea that it’s your job to get over it, that you’re supposed to be tougher than this if you’re a paramedic,” he said, “but for me it’s about honouring the traumas you see rather than the idea that you shouldn’t think about it.”
read more here

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

First Responder Trauma Linked to PTSD, Suicides

First responder trauma linked to PTSD, suicides
Click 2 Houston
Author: Sara Donchey, Reporter
Tera Roberson, Special Projects Producer
Published On: Oct 27 2015

Robert Harrington Jr. fondly remembers his father.

“I remember going to the station quite a bit on holidays: Christmas, Easter, always being in my Halloween costume, going up there to see him because he was working so much,” Harrington said. “I was proud of him, he was my hero, and he always seemed to have it together."

But those memories soon give way to the reality that his father is no longer alive.
"I just texted him back, 'I love you too,'" Susan Anderson said. "I found out later that 15 minutes later he had taken his own life."

Though Jason Anderson never talked about it, Susan Anderson said she feels her son suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after his time in the military and as a firefighter. She wants others to know that it's OK to ask for help.
read more here

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Saturday, November 23, 2013

International Survivors of Suicide Day

This is some of the best advice families need to hear after suicide. The grief we feel is not just about how they left us but about a thousand questions that cannot be answered. "What did we do wrong?" We always want to know why they didn't know how much we loved them. Why didn't they trust us, open up to let us know? Most of the time, they just didn't know how.

It was not a contest of love. Not about how much we love them but more about how much they are able to love themselves. We are left behind wondering why they couldn't realize how much they meant.
International Survivors of Suicide Day
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
November 23, 2013

International Survivors of Suicide Day

Every year, survivors of suicide loss gather together in locations around the world to feel a sense of community, to promote healing, and to connect with others who have had similar experiences. This year, join us for International Survivors of Suicide Day on Saturday, November 23, 2013.

Each location welcomes survivors of suicide loss, providing a safe and healing space where everyone can comfortably participate in a way that is meaningful to them. Join with others to listen to a diverse group of survivors discuss their losses, how they coped, and much more.

Come in person to experience the powerful sense of connection and community that is forged between survivors of suicide loss. You are not alone. This day is for you.

Here Is a Very Special Preview from This Year's Program

Listen in as survivors of suicide loss share what they wished they had known in the early days:

2013 International Survivors of Suicide Day - Special Preview from AFSP on Vimeo.

When I wrote For the Love of Jack, His War My Battle about my husband, a Vietnam Vet with PTSD and how our lives were changed, it was about facing suicide as well. His nephew Andy turned 19 in Vietnam just like Jack did.

Andy was going out on patrol with his buddies after he had already down a sweep checking for bombs. Three of them were walking together when Andy stopped to tie his bootlace. His buddies were up ahead when a bomb blew up killing both of them and sending shrapnel into Andy. He wound have been right between them had he not stopped. Andy blamed himself for their deaths.

At such a young age it was the second time he blamed himself for someone dying. When he was in school, his Dad, a cop, was laying on the floor from a gunshot wound to his head when Andy came home.

There is a lot of his story I will never know. He came home addicted to heroin. There was a drug deal he was involved in later on and someone was killed. Andy didn't pull the trigger but he went to jail, yet again blaming himself for someone dying. By the time he was released, he tried to pick up his life with finding jobs and losing jobs just as fast.

By the time I met him, he was starting his life over again. He met a woman determined to help him recover. He was getting back on his feet, filed a claim with the VA for PTSD and the wounds he received. He was really happy when it was approved and he received 100%. He started to feel worthy of a better life again just when he started to have problems with pain.

The VA sent him for an MRI but moments before it started, someone stopped the test because of the metal still in his body. It could have killed him. Days later he heard from the Army after requesting his records telling him that his unit did not exist.

That sent Andy over the edge. It was as if the Army told him the deaths of his buddies never happened and the shrapnel in his body as a constant reminder of what he viewed as his fault didn't really matter.

Andy started using heroin again. He checked himself into a motel room when the pain got too much to carry with enough heroin to kill 10 men, barricaded the door and ended his life.

No one in Andy's family understood Vietnam but Jack did. He couldn't understand why Andy didn't talk to him about what was going on. I couldn't understand why he didn't come to me. The woman he lived with didn't understand why he didn't go to her. So did his sister and brother and his son. Everyone was wondering why he didn't let us know what was going on.

By the time Andy committed suicide I had been helping other veterans for over a decade. My husband was getting better by the help he got from the VA and me in a way, but as his wife, I couldn't really do more than just make is life a little easier. I took Andy's death hard wondering what I missed, didn't say and what I could have done differently. Every time I read about a suicide, I remember Andy. I was in a different position than anyone else around Andy but he didn't trust me enough to listen to what I had to say. He kept telling me I was too young to understand.

The way I cope with this is trying to make a difference for other veterans with PTSD and their families. I've seen the darkest of days with my husband and Andy but I've also seen the other side when lives got better.

Watching the video above and hearing the pain in their voices has me remembering all the losses over the years but those memories will pass the way they always do and I'll remember the healing that came for others because of Andy and Jack and the change they made in me.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Who really deserves to be called hero?

Who really deserves the title of hero? Is it a football player? After all, they risk their lives for their jobs. Don't they? They do it for glory

There have been a lot of reports on football players committing suicide after a head injury. There have also been many reports of troops and veterans committing suicide after TBI.
They do it for each other

Jordan Riddle's family fought hard to prevent him from becoming a statistic
Jordan Riddle's family fought hard to prevent him from becoming a statistic. They said he left for Iraq five years ago and never really came home.

"He was angry. He was hurt," said Shannon Murphy, his sister.

"It was so seldom we saw him smile," added Tommy Riddle, his dad.

His family said he suffered from a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. It got so bad his dad quit his job to try to manage his mental health care.

"The VA just, they dropped the ball," Tommy Riddle said.

So who really deserves to be called hero? Some of the football players had donated their bodies so that scientists could study their brains after head injury out of hope that one day others would not suffer the way they did. In their own way, they were thinking of their buddies the same way the troops think of theirs.

Maybe the answer to the question depends more on what they do with their lives for others, than anything else.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

NFL and players reach $765 million settlement over head injuries

NFL and players reach $765 million settlement over head injuries
NBC News
By Tracy Connor, Staff Writer
august 29, 2013

The National Football League has agreed to pay $765 million to settle lawsuits by former players over head injuries, it was announced Thursday.

The proposed agreement, which was hashed out during court-ordered mediation, will dedicate $675 million to a compensation fund for retired players who can show they have severe cognitive impairment, dementia, Alzheimer's or Lou Gehrig's disease.

The amount each player gets will be determined by doctors and court administrators, and players can apply for more funds if their condition deteriorates over time.

Another $75 million will be spent on medical exams for retired players, and $10 million will be earmarked for a research and education fund.

The settlement covers dozens of lawsuits filed by more than 4,500 ex-players who accused the league of glorifying the violence of the sport while ignoring the health risks and failing to warn players that repeated concussions could cause brain damage or leave them prone to depression and suicide.
read more here

Monday, July 8, 2013

Losing the Covert War on PTSD

Losing the Covert War on PTSD
Wounded Times Blog
Kathie Costos
July 8, 2013

It is stunning to constantly read claims made by officials soon proven false in another part of the country. It happens all the time. Someone speaking for the DOD will make a claim about addressing suicides in DC yet in another part of the country there is a news report about an emergency standdown because of a rise in suicides. One legislator will tout his latest bill to get the troops into treatment but in another part of the country there are screams coming out of homes when they have found the body of yet another veteran after another legislator pushed their own bill years ago making the same claims. All of this is part of why Wounded Times tracks reports all over the country.

There has been a covert war on PTSD that we have been losing and the American people are paying as much attention to it as they did to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. As soon as major combat operations ended and the " in Iraq, they started to watch their regular TV shows.
"Major combat operations in Iraq have ended," Bush said, the infamous "Mission Accomplished" banner hovering over him. "In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed."
The war, unfortunately, never ended for far too many. They were followed back home by it.
Local veteran’s story illustrates struggles of post-traumatic stress
July 7, 2013

He held the barrel of the gun steady in his mouth. His finger slowly added pressure to the trigger.

Images of fellow U.S. Marines who had died or killed themselves went through Roget Aouad’s mind. He closed his eyes, tightened the grip on the gun, and prepared to join the ghosts dancing in his head.

But three more images stared back at him — Christian, 3, Nikolas 2, and Elodie, 1.

“I didn’t bring three children into this world so that they would have to grow up without a father,” Mr. Aouad, now 26, remembers telling himself during that difficult time last year. “I didn’t know how I was going to do it. But I decided at that moment that I would beat this. I wanted to be there for them.”

The story of Lance Corporal Aouad of Sylvania, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, isn’t unique.

At least 20 percent — one out of every five — of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have post-traumatic stress and/​or depression. That’s nearly 300,000 veterans, according to recent studies conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the RAND Center for Military Health Policy Research.

That number is even higher when traumatic brain injury is included.

Suicide among U.S. troops overall is up, averaging nearly one per day, the highest rate since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began a decade ago, according to the military studies.

“The good news is that there is good treatment for them,” said Sheila A.M. Rauch, director of the Serving Returning Veterans’ Mental Health Program for the Department of Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare System.

“The problem is great, [but] with weekly treatment we can see a significant reduction in problems.”
read more here

The first thing to point out is the number of suicides per day within the military. It is over one a day. When you factor in National Guards and Reservists it is well over 500 for last year alone. The other thing to point out is the percentage used is also wrong according to experts studying PTSD since the Vietnam War. It is actually one out of three. The fact that 57% of the suicides came after they sought treatment also shows how wrong the information being told to reporters trying to tell their stories is all too often not based on facts.

While the story above is about the new generation of veterans suffering, the truth is a lot harder to take when you understand the suffering was just as great when Vietnam veterans came home. Why is it harder? Because one of the first bills Congress did to address suicides was done in 2007. S. 479 (110th): Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act. On November 5th President Bush signed a different version of it H.R. 327
To amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to develop and implement a comprehensive program designed to reduce the incidence of suicide among veterans.
The number of veterans committing suicide went up, not down. This isn't just about Iraq and Afghanistan veterans committing suicide even though they were the groups getting the attention of the press. Vietnam veterans were still taking their own lives as the highest percentage.
Minority veterans face additional post-service issues
Area servicemen cite challenges reintegrating after war’s horrors
July 8, 2013

He still hears the screams, sees the agonizing facial expressions on his friends as they die, feels the blood splattering across his face. Absentmindedly, he starts to wipe away at the lenses of his glasses.

“We were walking in single file toward a large hill, or mountain,” recalls Manuel Caro, 66, of Toledo as he slowly begins his story. “The jungle was so thick you couldn’t see anything above or next to you. That’s when all hell broke loose.”

Corporal Caro, then 19, was a part of the 5th U.S. Marines, 3rd Battalion, India Company. They had been in Vietnam less than a week and had been ambushed by the Viet Cong twice.

“They started mortaring us; 50-caliber machine guns,” Mr. Caro says, as his voice begins to quiver. “People were falling left and right. People were screaming and dying.

“We had a lot of wounded but couldn’t get them out because they were shooting the helicopters.”

The 3rd Battalion couldn’t see where they were shooting; their ammunition was unable to penetrate the thick jungle brush.

The U.S. troops would learn later that the North Vietnamese soldiers were perched higher, shooting down at them.

The survivors spent the night surrounded by the dead bodies of their fellow Marines as the Viet Cong continued to fire at them, says Mr. Caro, his voice rising as he proceeds with the story.

He and another survivor attempted to dig trenches to bury the dead.

“We couldn’t dig enough holes, we couldn’t dig them deep enough,” Mr. Caro says, as he begins to sob, his whole body trembling with grief. “There were too many of them. They wouldn’t all fit. They were all dead.”
read more here
Veterans committing suicide were all tied back to military life by families across the country. For OEF and OIF veterans they received "prevention" training starting in 2006 with Battlemind.
These are the numbers from just the Army before Battlemind took over.
2003 Army 79 26 while deployed
2004 Army 67 13 while deployed
2005 Army 87 25 while deployed
2006 Army 99 30 while deployed
(Army Suicide Prevention Program Fact Sheet, Army Public Affairs, August 17, 2007)
2007 Army 115 36 while deployed (50 deployed prior to suicide and 29 not deployed)

Definition: Battlemind is defined as the Warrior’s inner strength to face the realities of the environment with courage, confidence, and resilience. This means meeting the mental challenges of training, operations, combat, and transitioning home. Warriors with Battlemind take care of themselves, their buddies, and those they lead.

This is what started the bulk of the increased suicides. Hearing those words telling them they had the mental strength to meet the mental challenges meant if they had trouble, they were mentally weak and didn't train right.

These are the numbers from the Army afterwards
Army Confirmed and Pending Suicides (2011 page 128)
2008 140
Suicide attempts 570
Of the 140 suicides, 34 (24%) occurred in OIF-OEF. One hundred sixteen suicide attempts (12%) were reported to have occurred in OIF-OEF. Nineteen percent of Soldiers with completed suicides, and 14% of Soldiers with suicide attempts, had a history of multiple deployments to Iraq and/or Afghanistan. Of suicide events reported as occurring in theater, the majority was reported to have occurred in Iraq.
2009 164
Army DoDSERs Submitted for Non-Fatal Events 2,047 Army DoDSERs for non-fatal events were submitted for 2009. Of these, 502 (25%) were submitted for suicide attempts, 347 (17%) for instances of self-harm without intent to die, and 1198 (59%) for suicidal ideation only
2010 160
DoDSERs provide data on suicide attempts for 400 individuals. Two attempts were reported (DoDSERs submitted) for 11 (2.75%) individuals, and three for one individual (0.25%). Additionally, four Soldiers with a 2010 suicide attempt DoDSER subsequently died by suicide in 2010 and were also included in the preceding section.
2011 167
440 DoDSERs for 2011 Army suicide attempts. As indicated in Table 5.29, these DoDSERs provide data on suicide attempts for 432 individuals. Two suicide attempt DoDSERs were submitted for 8 (1.85%) individuals 2011 Army suicide attempts 432 individuals with 440 attempts

The full Suicide Event Report for 2012 has still not been released.

As you can see what they have been doing has not worked after spending billions a year on prevention. This covert war has been funded without any accountability. It has gone on longer than any other war in our history but few knew about the price paid by those we sent. We will keep losing this war until people open their eyes and understand healing is possible but we can't get there from where we are unless things change right now.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Mental Health Concerns and the Heart of God

Suicide, Mental Health at Forefront of Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting
Pastor Frank Page Shares Impact of Suicide on Christian Families
By Melissa Barnhart
CP Reporter
June 13, 2013

HOUSTON – Southern Baptist church leaders voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to approve a resolution on "Mental Health Concerns and the Heart of God" that affirms the denomination's support for people suffering from mental illness, as well as families that are impacted by the loss of loved ones to suicide.

Using the example set forth by Jesus Christ and the care he provided to the most marginalized members of society, the resolution lifts the stigma of a myriad of mental health concerns, and affirms unconditional compassion for people who are coping with clinical depression and schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorders, and dementia and Alzheimer's disease, among others.

Outspoken church leaders have been instrumental in prompting the SBC to take a leadership role by ambitiously addressing mental health concerns so that Christian households no longer have to suffer in silence.

Just before Wednesday's vote, Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., whose youngest son, Matthew, committed suicide in April following a lengthy battle with mental illness, tweeted a message of support for the resolution to the SBC: "TODAY we ask #SBC13 to approve a resolution on raising awareness and lowering the stigma of mental illness. Pray it passes."
Pastor Frank Page shares his struggle following the death of his daughter, Melissa Page, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee, spoke with The Christian Post on Wednesday about the impact suicide has had on his family, which he addresses in his book, Melissa: A Father's Lesson From a Daughter's Suicide.

"Grief comes like waves on the seashore," Page described. "They may decrease in intensity and frequency over time, but they always come. Life with that kind of loss is extremely difficult. One thing I like to tell extended family and church members is that in the first several months, people who have undergone a suicide in their family are in shock, they might not even remember that you were there."

He continued, "I remember my daughter committed suicide the day after Thanksgiving, and so people ask me, 'Well, how was your first Christmas?' I don't remember it. But I do remember the second Christmas – that was really hard. So I encourage church members and Christians to be there long term."
read more here

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Pursuit of Happiness self help couple ended with double suicide

NY authorities: Self-help couple commits suicide
Associated Press
June 6, 2013

NEW YORK (AP) - On a radio show they hosted called "The Pursuit of Happiness," John Littig and Lynne Rosen urged listeners to embrace spontaneity.

"So much about life is about impulse," Littig said on a broadcast this year on an FM station in New York, WBAI. "It's about doing it right now."

A shocking decision the couple made together appeared more methodical: Police say they killed themselves side by side as part of a suicide pact.

Autopsies found that both Littig, 47, and Rosen, 45, died from asphyxiation after inhaling helium, a spokeswoman for medical examiner's office said Thursday.

The bodies were discovered Wednesday on a couch in the couple's brownstone in Brooklyn.

In separate suicide notes, Lettig indicated that they were determined to die together, while Rosen apologized to her family, police said. But beyond that, why two people who made a living giving advice on how to lead more fulfilling lives decided to cut short their own wasn't clear.

There was no immediate response to a message left Thursday at WBAI.
read more here

Monday, June 3, 2013

Gun suicides and mental health linked

Analysis: Local gun suicides and mental health linked
June 1, 2013

Sean F.’s July 2010 obituary in the American-Statesman said he had passed away “unexpectedly.” But the 39-year-old had already tried to kill himself twice before, his parents later told investigators — once, three years earlier, with a gun. He had bipolar disorder and possibly was schizophrenic, according to his autopsy report. The Austin Police Department had also identified him internally as an “EDP,” an emotionally disturbed person recognized by officers from previous contacts.

Yet, one week before he died, he was still able to purchase a gun. He then used the 9 mm handgun to shoot himself inside his North Austin apartment. (The Statesman isn’t using the full names of suicide victims because in some cases their families or friends couldn’t be reached.)

The recent nationwide discussion about gun violence has concentrated mainly on firearms used in homicides. Since December’s elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn., lawmakers’ focus has been even more specifically on guns used in the sort of mass murders that fuel public outrage and prompt policy reforms.
read more here

A few gun deaths from January 2013 on Wounded Times
Ex-Marine in recovery is Broward's first homicide victim of 2013
Florida mother kills infant son in murder-suicide attempt, police say
PTSD, a Navy SEAL and family left behind
Andrew Baumgartner was a Marine, who served in Afghanistan
Iraq veteran with PTSD getting help after shooting
Iraq veteran held on $3M bond in shooting deaths
Fort Riley soldier died of gunshot wound
Young veteran's suicide shatters air of stability
Mississippi State Rep. Jessica Upshaw found dead
Police officer found dead in New Jersey Park
Mississippi Police officer and suspect killed at Jackson Police Station
Missouri Soldier killed woman and unborn child to "protect career"
Fort Hood soldier who died of gunshot identified
Veteran's suicide resonates with loved ones, law enforcement, veterans officials
Fort Hood soldier on leave dies of gunshot wound

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Suicide rates go up for middle-aged, CDC finds

Keep in mind that while the military points out the increase in suicides in the "civilian" population, they do in fact also include veterans. Last count is 22 veterans a day.
Suicide rates go up for middle-aged, CDC finds
By Maggie Fox, Senior Writer
NBC News

Suicide rates are up alarmingly among middle-aged Americans, according to the latest federal government statistics.

They show a 28 percent rise in suicide rates for people aged 35 to 64 between 1999 and 2010. Rates for children and younger adults, and people over 65, didn’t change much over the same time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. “Most suicide research and prevention efforts have focused historically on youth and the elderly. This report’s findings suggest that efforts should also address the needs of middle-aged persons,” CDC researchers wrote in the agency’s weekly report in death and disease.

The CDC had already noted a worrying trend for suicides. “Suicide deaths have surpassed deaths from motor vehicle crashes in recent years in the United States. In 2010 there were 33,687 deaths from motor vehicle crashes and 38,364 suicides,” the CDC’s Nimesh Patel and Scott Kegler wrote in their report.

They teased out the data by age and sex and found a clear trend for people who usually are at the height of career and family responsibilities -- those aged 35 to 64. “Annual suicide rates for this age group increased 28 percent over this period (from 13.7 suicides per 100,000 people in 1999 to 17.6 per 100,000 in 2010), with particularly high increases among non-Hispanic whites and American Indians and /Alaska Natives,” they wrote.
read more here

Friday, April 26, 2013

Hyundai thinks suicide is something to joke about in new ad?

The headlines read "22 veterans commit suicide a day" along with the headlines of military suicides at an all time high. As bad as this is there are about 35,000 suicides a year in the US. (Never mind Hyundai is sold in other countries as well.) I don't think an apology will really undo the damage they did to their reputation. Thinking something like this would be funny involved a lot of people thinking the same way.
Hyundai’s shocking ad: You can’t kill yourself in our car
The car maker apologizes for a horribly tasteless ad -- but no one wants to take responsibility for it
APR 26, 2013

The good news is that Ford is no longer the front-runner for the most tasteless, boneheaded ad campaign of the year. Sorry, America! South Korea’s largest automaker, Hyundai, and its advertising agency Innocean Worldwide Europe, has utterly stolen your glory.

In the spot, hilariously titled “Pipe Job,” a grim, middle-aged man is seen in his garage, methodically taping and running a pipe into his car. He then sits inside stoically, breathing deeply, his face a mask of weary woe. Cut to nightfall, and the man emerging from the garage very much alive. The tag line? “The new iX35 has 100 percent water emissions.” Apparently someone thinks Hyundai’s target demographic is the depressed, unsuccessfully suicidal car-buyer market. Way to own it!

After the spot came to light on AdLand recently — and a few people gently pointed out that it was the worst idea in the universe — the car company issued its inevitable apology. The first statement was a classic soft-pedal, a message from the company’s North American branch that “We understand that some people may have found the iX35 video offensive. We are very sorry if we have offended anyone.” Some. If. Whatever.

A later statement, however, was more strongly worded. “Hyundai Motor deeply and sincerely apologizes for the offensive viral ad,” it reads. “The ad was created by an affiliate advertising agency, Innocean Europe, without Hyundai’s request or approval.” But as Forbes points out, Innocean is “an in-house ad agency,” a status abundantly clear on its website.
read more here