Expert Debunks Veteran Suicide Myths

Expert Debunks Veteran Suicide Myths

You Don’t Need to Be an Expert Help!

Saving a Life Starts Here

Veteran suicide suffers from the same stigma associated with civilian suicide. That stigma slows down the conversation, and not just on a national level, but on a personal one. What you think about discussing suicidal thoughts might be wrong. Here are five ways that you can think differently talking with someone you love about suicide. 

Veteran families have a higher obstacle to climb because soldiers can want to carry the load no matter how heavy. They all feel that maybe they could have said that one thing that their loved one would still be here. So for them, and for you if you think you need one little nudge to get you over the hump to talk to someone you love about suicide, read on.  

The Reddit community supplied all the content below and the original material can be found here. If you’re a Veteran, this is a place to meet other Vets. 

deployed soldier take a break

Five Myths to Reconsider

Asking about suicide plants the idea in their head. False [see: Dazzi, T., Grobble, R., Wessely, S., & Fear, N. (2014). Does asking about suicide and related behaviors induce suicidal ideation? What is the evidence? psychological medicine] Instead it might help save their lives by reducing the stigma and allowing them to open up a conversation about their thoughts (also, don’t be afraid to use the word “suicide” or “killing yourself.”

People who are suicidal want to die. In most cases, suicidal people don’t want to die, they want the PAIN to stop. There is a difference. They don’t see any way to make it stop unless they are dead. Depression is treatable and there are ways to help reduce the pain and find reasons for living.

People who are suicidal are weak. False. Depression is a serious, but treatable illness that has nothing to do with moral strength or weakness.

People who commit suicide are selfish. False. Most people who commit suicide truly believe that their loved ones would be better off without them. Many believe that they put a burden on family and friends and that they would be much happier without them. I’ve had patients share these thoughts with their loved ones and they were utterly surprised to see their loved ones vehemently disagree with their thoughts.

People who are suicidal are just trying to get attention. I’ll end on this one, because I really want you to remember this. OF COURSE THEY WANT ATTENTION. And?? They are crying for help, they do want attention because they are screaming for help. If someone’s house is on fire, don’t they cry for help and try to get someone’s attention? Why do we shame people for suicidal behaviors or sharing their thoughts? There are so many more I’d love to share, but I’ll just start here for now. Check on your loved ones.

Another common attitude that shows a problematic lack of empathy is when people take seriously only completed suicides or “real suicide attempts” and even praise them as signs of genuine and heroic suffering and struggle. Meanwhile mocking and downplaying “fake” or “attention seeking” suicide attempts, surviving less effective methods, as well as self harm in general.

ABOUT ONCE A SOLDIER

Our Veterans are killing themselves in record numbers mostly due to PTSD. An overmatched VA can’t take care of them or their families. We will.

Soldier suicide leaves Veteran families with thousands of dollars of bills unpaid, mostly bank loans.

We are the only nonprofit standing with the families after a veteran suicide. Stand with us.

Our Mission: Become the preferred channel for donors, advocates and volunteers who care about veteran families left behind after a soldier suicide.

The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author.

What Veteran Suicide Sounds Like

What Veteran Suicide Sounds Like

Online Veteran Forums Give Insight to Suicide Ideation

Real Vets. Real Posts.

Looking for support from their fellow Veterans, this Reddit subReddit give us a chance to see events and emotions leading up to the brink of Veteran suicide.

What do I do?

Right now I’m struggling more than ever. I lost my job in October due to PTSD and workplace harassment. I have since struggled with depression and suicide. I feel/felt I had no one to turn to. In January, my best friend of over 25 years said he was going to lose his kids and they were going to be placed with some strangers in the state foster system. Without even asking my wife, I told him we would take the two kids while he undergoes drug rehabilitation, detox, etc. he has since relapsed and we again, didn’t think twice to adopting these two boys and letting them be our family.
Now, we have four kids 15,11,9, and 3 and our house only has one shower (the other tub is broken), not enough rooms, and bad electrical. On top of all that, because I lost my job, I have to file for bankruptcy. I feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders and I’m panicking. If there is another season, I need help.

My heart can’t handle much more pain.

Medically retired, Infantry

 
deployed soldier take a break

Losing my grip

I’ve been out for 5 months now. 100 percent disabled. Can’t seem to hold down a job. Can’t seem to keep my life together. Moved back to my hometown. Old friends have moved on. Feeling pretty alone and disenfranchised. Idk who I’m talking to. Whoever will listen I suppose.

So a few years ago I had an almost complete breakdown –

Bad enough to call the crisis line and ask for help. I don’t like to ask for help, so obvs that was pretty bad. I was diagnosed w PTSD & major depressive disorder and hooked up with a psych-doc who has tried multiple meds to help me and a therapist who gave me 8 sessions and done. I said I really still need help due to debilitating symptoms (can’t stop crying 24 hrs a day, constant panic attacks, can’t function, etc) and she put me in WEBSTAIR – the self-paced online skills program. The doc who was my ‘guide’ for the program was super nice and gave me another 8 weeks after I completed the program bc I’m still not in good shape. Then she left and I had to ask for another therapist bc they said basically – look, you’ve had your therapy, you need to be better now.

So I got another therapist who said I can’t be in therapy forever, but she’ll give me another 8-sessions even though I’m using appointments other veterans could be benefiting from. We’re now at the end of those 8 sessions and she says I am now done. No more. Endsville.

I am now able to suppress it and only cry when I think about things which I can avoid using distraction. And most of the time I don’t think I’m responsible for & deserved everything that’s happened to me in my life. That’s my progress. But I don’t feel like I’m done – I can’t imagine living another 50 years feeling the way I do, and I can’t fix my brain when I can’t even see what’s wrong in my head. I can probably afford 1x therapy session per month on my own $$ but it chaps my a$$ that the VA refuses to provide this care for a service-connected disability. I’m 100% for the PTSD/mental health due to the depth of my breakdown.

I’ve sent out a plea for help to my senator but I’m pretty sure, after reading all the info on the VA sites, that the VA doesn’t offer long-term therapy for PTSD, so I’m $crewed. Looking forward to suggestions/advice from anyone who knows anything.

Those with untreated PTSD/depression: did it ever get better?

I’m going on 5 years and have seen a therapist a few times and ditched therapy for numerous of reasons and I have noticed that I have a habit of lying and saying I’m okay but in reality, I’m super sick. My mental health went untreated for a good 3 years till I got hospitalized and started to seek help. I ditched the help because I was going back through that cycle again. I have a bad habit of avoidance and seeking help because I just don’t feel comfortable asking for it.
 
To be honest, the depression and suicidal thoughts graduated into severe anxiety/full blown panic attacks and having violent thoughts and outbursts. I lived a life of I had nothing to lose and I had no fear of going to jail. I’m actually surprised I’m not in jail. I’ve been listening to podcasts which have been very therapeutic and part of me thinks I need a outlet to stop me from having these thoughts.. I’ve heard even though it could get better, you will always have these thoughts, almost like it’s a plaque in your brain. I’ve been planning for the future and I think fishing and hunting could help me be less intense from having these bad thoughts. Part of me feels like it’s hard to be cured because I ignored my mental health and mind. I used self avoidance as therapy. I tried pills and therapy and they always gave me horrible side effects.

ABOUT ONCE A SOLDIER

Our Veterans are killing themselves in record numbers mostly due to PTSD. An overmatched VA can’t take care of them or their families. We will.

Soldier suicide leaves Veteran families with thousands of dollars of bills unpaid, mostly bank loans.

We are the only nonprofit standing with the families after a veteran suicide. Stand with us.

Our Mission: Become the preferred channel for donors, advocates and volunteers who care about veteran families left behind after a soldier suicide.

Once a Soldier to Launch Free Virtual Meditation Classes

Once a Soldier to Launch Free Virtual Meditation Classes

TM Will Give You a More Positive Attitude

The Beatles loved it – Paul still does.  Jerry Seinfeld swears by it. But Transcendental Meditation (TM) has no red carpet or big, brawny bouncer. Yes, it’s the mission of famed trippy movie director David Lynch’s foundation, but meditation is for everyone. For those of you suffering from the range of depressive orders who are tired of taking pills and getting beat down, this is worth a look.

Free and drug-free, investing a little time now to try it the right way will pay off big before you know what hit you. That’s why we’re starting virtual learning sessions. Once you get trained, it’s a lifelong skill. It’s even good for your heart.

 

What’s all the excitement about?

If you’d like to get involved in the next training cycle, please fill out a seat saver form and we’ll be in touch with next steps. If you’re still not sure about Transcendental Meditation, keep reading and you’ll see it’s worth a go.

The benefits of ™ fall into one big category. “You feel better.” More at peace with yourself and happier with the life you’re leading. You’re chilled out. Science backs this up. From the National Library of Science, here’s their landmark study on just how ™ works. And guess what? It’s about your how it’s good for your heart. Why? Because it reduces stress. Stress is a killer, we know this. 

How the classes work online

Ther entire course runs for four weeks, with one one-hour class each week. To sign up for our next class, do just that. Click the button below and we’ll send you the link to the live Facebook broadcast. It’s that easy.

ABOUT ONCE A SOLDIER

Our Veterans are killing themselves in record numbers mostly due to PTSD. An overmatched VA can’t take care of them or their families. We will. Donate here to tell them you care.

Soldier suicide leaves Veteran families with thousands of dollars of bills unpaid, mostly bank loans.

We are the only nonprofit standing with the families after a veteran suicide. Stand with us.

Our Mission: Become the preferred channel for donors, advocates and volunteers who care about veteran families left behind after a soldier suicide.

TM versus PTSD

TM versus PTSD

Transcendental Meditation Joins the Battle

Transcendental Meditation (TM) has proven to be a life-changing revelation for those who’ve tried it. Finding peace of mind is the goal of any PTSD therapy. Our goal is to offer those fighting PTSD free and drug-free, conventional and unconventional, approve and un-approved  options. Therefore, TM gets our support as a weapon in the fight against PTSD and beyond. For those with PTSD or those looking to improve, TM could be a life-saver as well as a life-changer.

TM Lights Up Your Brain To Overshadow PTSD

I recently spoke with a representative from the David Lynch Foundation about TM for Veterans. They are actively promoting TM as a therapy to give Veterans another tool to fight their drug-resistant PTSD. Their Operation Warrior Wellness builds resilience for Veterans and active duty. They partner with other Veteran nonprofits and numerous military bases to create a new and better warrior. Their site offers many access points for those looking for more information and steps to get started.

David Lynch famously directed mind-bending movies so it would fit that his Foundation would seek to spread awareness of TM. His celebrity testimonails videos really bridge the gap between thinking about trying it and doing it. Listening to them extol the benefits makes it seem doable.

Watching Jerry Seinfeld, Martin Scorsese and Paul McCartney (this is the one that got me) get so enthusiastic feels genuine, even though this is from people who are paid to fake it. Quickly you see that there’s something going on here that good for all.

PTSD Veterans Testimonials 

Along with testimonials from regular folks, you see Veterans telling their stories about PTSD and TM. From both groups you see hope and joy where before there was twisted desperation.

“After starting TM, my heart and mind were calmed. I had my first full night of sleep in 21 years. I have new goals in my life, and I haven’t stopped smiling ever since my first meditation.”

—Carlos, veteran of Operation Desert Storm and Liberation of Kuwait

When I came back from Afghanistan, I was angry, depressed, and suicidal. Transcendental Meditation has lifted my depression, eased my pain and given
me my life back.”

– Luke Jensen, Operation Enduring Freedom Veteran

TM is an ideal fit for anyone looking to relieve stress, refresh their minds, and gain a new way to control their world. Here’s why TM works. It is:

 

  • Simple to learn: Accessible to both civilian and military practitioners—standardized instruction ensures consistent results
  • Easy to practice: Does not involve concentration or controlling the mind—difficult practices for those suffering intrusive thoughts and flashbacks
  • Confidential and portable: Can be practiced privately, anywhere, at any time

Brain scans show how TM lights up your brain. Effects are fast acting and universal. One session is all it talks to feel the full impact.

ABOUT ONCE A SOLDIER

Our Veterans are killing themselves in record numbers mostly due to PTSD. An overmatched VA can’t take care of them or their families. We will.

Soldier suicide leaves Veteran families with thousands of dollars of bills unpaid, mostly bank loans.

We are the only nonprofit standing with the families after a veteran suicide. Stand with us.

Our Mission: Become the preferred channel for donors, advocates and volunteers who care about veteran families left behind after a soldier suicide.

Three Calls To Make After a Veteran Suicide

Three Calls To Make After a Veteran Suicide

Get Help With Decision Making in the Hectic Aftermath

Our families report that once you get the news of a suicide, it quickly becomes the least of their problems. You will be overwhelmed from all sides. Critical decision-making is required at this time.

Funeral homes use this to their advantage as death is their business. They may not tell you all you need to know. Regardless, the choices you make will impact you for years to come financially and emotionally. Here’s three calls that we’d make upon hearing the news that we’ve lost another soldier to suicide.

Call Our Time of Need Help Line

Call our support line (202) 305-0537. Open from 8-8 EST, you will find a compassionate and helpful voice on the other line who’s ready to help.  Our staff are not trained or certified counselors, but through the experience of speaking with other Veteran families who’ve been faced with the same issues you are, they can provide another point of view. 

Our goal is to help you find the right way to honor your loved one and help you make your own decision with a long-term prospective.

Call Funeral Homes

If you’re looking to find a funeral home that will do a direct cremation, you will need to call more than the local ones. Direct cremation is the most economical option. Here’s more about why we think this is a great option for some families. Remember to ask for an all-inclusive price so there are no surprises. 

Call the VA

Initiate your claim at eBenefits.va.gov or call 1-800-827-1000 for assistance. Your claim will take a while to get to you. That means that the sooner you get it started, the faster you’ll see the money. Expect a range of benefits, from $500 – $2,000. but not in your time of need. If you want to take advantage of their other benefits, like the plot, marker and service, this is at the top of your list.

About Once a Soldier

Started in 2017, Once a Soldier is the only nonprofit in the USA to reach out to the families of Veteran suicide. With your kind support, we will continue to do the hardest job for the most deserving 

Dr. Bridgette Everhart Hardin’s Book of Surviving the Grief of Suicide

Dr. Bridgette Everhart Hardin’s Book of Surviving the Grief of Suicide

Her Advice Based on “Living Beyond the Why: Navigating the Journey of Suicide-Related Grief”

Offering relevant information on how to navigate through grief by experts in the field of bereavement, author Dr. Bridgette Everhart Hardin writes about her personal journey through suicide-related grief. Order her 5-star reviewed book here.

Specifically, the book provides information on how to Identify personal grief patterns, insights on how to recognize relevant and beneficial coping strategies used to promote emotional healing; and information on the various resources available to anyone traversing the journey of suicide-related grief.

Seven Questions with Dr. Hardin

How important is it to pull in other family members/friends into a “grieving circle?”

Quick answer- it is EXTREMELY important. When we lose a loved one to suicide, we often feel isolated and alone. Our grief holds us hostage, only feeding us sadness, guilt, and possibly, regret. Recognizing that there are other individuals ‘out there’ who are grieving over the loss of your loved one, be it an acquaintance or a close relative, helps us to realize we are not alone and that we do not need to feel isolated in our loss.

Suicide is a tricky, sensitive subject to talk about. Establishing a grief circle, comprised of fellow mourners, allows for opportunities to communicate and emotionally heal without judgment, criticism, or stigma.

 

What’s the top thing that you hold onto that keeps you moving forward?

Daily, I have to work at focusing on the love I have for my brother, and not the anger that wants to invade my thoughts. I have to remember how fortunate I was to have been loved by my brother and that my love for him continues on. This form of emotional redirect allows me to focus on the positive aspects of the relationship with my brother, while minimizing my tendency to fuel the negative thoughts focused on loss, sadness, and anger.

 

Did you feel that you needed to radically change your daily emotional/physical routine in order to break the cycle of misery?

This is a tricky question to answer, for when someone is in the ‘throws’ of raw grief, they do not readily recognize how their grief is shaping their day-to-day routines. Over time I realized that I was not truly living, but merely existing through each passing day. I knew I wanted to experience joy again, and authentically smile and laugh when opportunities presented themselves to do so. Yet, I didn’t have it in me to ‘step outside’ of my grief. I allowed the grief to rule my existence.

Then, by chance, at a wedding reception, I found myself authentically laughing at a story being told during the Best Man’s speech. The Best Man had the crowd in stitches, and me along with them. This was a breakthrough moment for me. I realized I needed to take inventory of my actions and my emotions, and find my way back to ‘the land of the living’. So, while I didn’t find a need to ‘radically change’ my routine, I did recognize the need to empower myself over my grief. Once I felt empowered, I was then able to take gentle steps forward to live a life full of promise and hope.

 

Did you feel like you could have done something, that guilt, and how did you manage it?

Oh yes- the guilt. I refer to guilt in my book, and reference the ‘HAVE Siblings’- Would Have, Could Have, and Should Have. It was so easy for me to go down the path of guilt over my brother’s suicide, as I was the last person to see him alive, just moments before he took his life. I often wondered if my brother was mentally swirling in his thoughts of suicide as he conversed with me during our last conversation. For quite some time, I harbored such guilt over not being able to influence my brother to stay ‘with us’. If only I would have been able to talk with him about the issues he was dealing with. If only I could have read or recognized any warning signs. I should have been able to see my brother’s emotional pain.

Again, those HAVE siblings were fueling my grief. The only way I conquered my feelings of guilt was be stopping those guilty thoughts in their tracks by recognizing how my brother’s actions were his to own, and not for me to own. I did not have the locus of control over my brother’s actions.

 

Did you feel like maybe that person was better off and that you were being selfish? If so, what’s your take on that emotional quandary?

With regard to my brother, I felt sorrow in that he didn’t feel as if he could share his issues with me. I thought my brother and I shared everything with each other. Between the moments of typical sibling bantering, we had great conversations and experiences together. I thought I knew everything that there was to know about my brother- alas, I was wrong. I think it is often easy for us to see the lives of others as ‘the grass is greener on the other side of the fence’. When, in all reality, we don’t take into account the struggles our loved ones endure on a daily basis. I think if we all step back and realize that one person’s ease over something is another person’s struggle, it would allow for all of us to be more empathetic.

 

Were you or are you a victim of PTSD before or after the suicide?

This is another area I bring up in the book. Before my brother died, I didn’t have any post traumatic episodes. After my brother’s suicide, I encountered many episodes. Having been the person to hear the gunshot go off in the house, and find my brother post-gunshot, was traumatic for me. Seeing my brother lying lifeless in his own blood spurred a series of nightmares for me right after his passing. There was one instance when some family members thought it would be a good idea to throw a surprise birthday party for my mother, as a way to break her out of her intense sorrow. When my parents and I walked into the room, and heard the booming shout-out of ‘SURPRISE’ from the party guests, I found myself shaken. My heart began to race, my chest tightened, and sweat began to bead at my brow. I was reliving the sound of the gunshot and wanted to run out of the room as fast as I could. To this day, I have flashback moments whenever I witness a scene in a movie involving gunfire, or whenever I see anything red split on the ground.

 

What advice do you have for those who find or identify the body at some point?

The image of your loved one, post-suicide, will always stay with you. Allow yourself to process what you have seen, and give yourself permission to be shocked by it. There is strength in recognizing our emotional and mental limitations. If you find yourself having nightmares about the last visual of your loved one, or find yourself unable to stop thinking about what you have seen, then you may benefit from talking with a mental health professional. For me, I turned to my parents and a counselor for support as I worked through the mental images of my brother. Over time, I was able to replace the horrific image of my brother’s death with images of happier times- such as traveling together and other common experiences (mental redirection).

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