Sunday, November 18, 2007

VET Suicide Rates:Part II of the CBS VET Suicide Story:Click this Title

(originally posted 11.16.07 )
About Suicide:
I am posting this series here. I also have to say I did get emails about this Post and the Suicide Issue. As a nurse, I have worked Psych, and ER , and also Homecare,and with PTSD VETS, where I learned more about suicide that maybe I should share this weekend as Thanksgiving Holiday approaches.The tricky part of this is that PTSD indeed might have different suicidal patterns and warnings and clues, so please bear with me as I explore this. Please know that if Someone you love is exhibiting ANY signs that concern you or worry you, please get them help, if that means going to a local ER,or Mental Health Specialist, then do it. Many of the Reports that I have read involved Time Lapsing while someone waited to be able to have a loved one seen at the VA. If you have someone that you feel is in crisis, do not wait to take them to the ER, atleast this also sends a messege that you Value this person, that YOU would never make them Wait. There are two times when Suicide Rates are up, when VET is home on leave for holiday or vacation or when VET has returned from assignment.

*{FACTOID: Important as of 2006 there were over 100,000 Disability Claims filed for PTSD, only one third are from the Gulf War, the rest are from this era Iraq and Afganistan. That is a large number- and how many are getting propercare and support, and meds, we don't know. National Guard Troops that were there at the start only had health care for TWO years, so most of the ones with PTSD are on the street or homeless, and I have not been able to find suicide numbers- but I am working on it.Considering 25% of all Homeless are VETS, this number is important.}*

Warning Signs:
Important: These signs are those that a nurse has noticed over 20 years, but I am not a Doctor, if you notice any of these, or more than one think about getting this peron help, and not necessarily from the VA, get to a good ER or psychiatrist that specializes in ANXIETY disorders, PTSD is NOT a Mood Disorder. VETS are being told that they have "mood Disorders", this also means that they are not being given MUCH needed Anxiety meds, and they are being told that they have a pre-exisiting condition, so that the VA actually does not feel responsible to treat the PTSD. If the Person has the symptoms below, they need help- immediately- not in 6 monthes or 4 weeks, and they need care, not a PTSD assesssment, they need meds and psychotherapy, support and professional care. ( The families usually need help too).

(1) Obvious Depression Symptoms ( which also can be a part of PTSD). Altered Sleep patterns ( this can include too much or too little, and difficulty getting to sleep, or using substances to get to sleep).Dead Eyes, Altered eye contact. Altered sense of humor or ability to connect. Person limits contact with others,seperating or "Caves". Person seems disconnected, angers at people suggesting connection or asking too many questions. ( Alternating Caving with Clinging- as one commenter has mentioned).

(2) Emotionally this person can also cry, or be quiet pensive. Atleast offer once a day, softly, and quietly without pressure "Do you want to talk?" and watch the response, but keep offering every day. If you give up trying the person sees that as you have given up on them. It can also be a rollercoaster, huge emotional swings- silence to rages, but what is noted is lack of pattern, and control. It is important that you remain calm and nonjudgemental and give unconditional support and care, remember it is not the person crying and lashing out in pain- it is the Illness, and it is a very serious illness.

(3) Patterns of care, does the person bath, care for self, and that includes eating and drinking fluids, are they connected to their own needs. This also includes substance issues, are they only drinking or taking pills to numb themselves and forgetting to eat.

(4) Is there anything that seems odd ? Are they putting everything in order, cleaning and tidying, and giving away Belongings. Apologizing to old friends, People that have planned a suicide for a long time will go to great extremes to put everything in order.Watch for this. Are they writing alot of letters and journaling excessively.

(5) Is there Reckless Behavior going on, more than usual. Sex, Drugs, or Driving, or "playing" with guns, or knives. ( If you notice anything that rings a bell with this- Be Proactive- remove the Pills from home, remove the Knife or Gun Collection, don't take them hunting, and put Keys away after 9pm, LIMIT Risks).

(6) The TV clue: Are they connected to what they are watching and interested at all, or are they just staring, watch what they watch, and just note, whether it be CNN, or game shows, or Violent movies. Look for patterns.

Suicide Prevention:
IF you have concerns, please talk to another family member or friend, you will need a team and a plan to help someone that is thinking of Suicide. Remember this, the person might have been planning for quite awhile, they will not want to be confronted, they may even be angry, defensive. You can ask :" are you okay?" If they vocalize at all" I don't want to be here or I can't do this anymore" , keep them talking, get them to talk as much as you can. It is about being gentle and if you keep them talking and let them know that they are loved, the chances increase considerabley to get them the help or care they need.

** { Other posts and blogs to read Lulu Maude at "Take Your Medicine" , Spadoman about PTSD, and" From the Left" and also Jim over at Average American Patriot, all have revelant posts up about PTSD and VA "care". }**

If you have more suggestions or observations or need more info please email


Newsguy said...

Why is this story not on the front page of the Los Angeles Times? Is it getting play? Barry Bonds was on the front page today. I heard passing reference to it yesterday on radio. This is an ENORMOUS story. 100 vet suicides a week?

I would suggest that everyone email CNN, the LAT, WAPO, NYT, urging their editors to cover this story. This is a front page above the fold story.

The country is reaping the seeds that the criminals in the White House sowed when they started the Iraq war and occupation.

Thanks, Nurse for bringing this to the attention of your readers.

Newsguy said...

One more comment. One hundred vet suicides a week is way mor than the number o vets getting killed in Iraq. Think about that.

Newsguy said...

My comments kept posting double or triple. I kept dumping the duplicates. Sorry.

enigma4ever said...

No happens ;-)

Now you are right that this story should be getting HUGE airplay and definently above the fold- please tell people to read/see both parts...Click the tItle of both posts here and it takes you directly to the CBS story....I plan to cover PTSD and Suicide all before the Thanksgiving Holiday- esp. as many families have VETS- I think we should all be learning more about it...and helping families cope and learn more. Sanja Gupta is doing a special segment about the broken VA this weekend ( 8pm)....I hope atleast posting more Suicide Prevention information might help too...

Aaron A. said...


It great it's getting airplay. I haven't herd a whole lot about this issue. Great post.

Larry said...

Another example of how Bush really feels about the troops he parades off to the pit of war.

Anok said...

I've also found that if the person seems overly clingy (in a sense that is out of character), or afraid to be alone combined with other symptoms, then its time to watch closely.

I don't know if it was mentioned, but also drastic mood swings, and swings in energy levels could be indicators as well.

Have a good night.

enigma4ever said...

thanks anok..I will add that too- the clingy thing...I think I did cover mood swings- drastic- but I need to check....

Thanks...I will recheck the post before I crash...

enigma4ever said...

Larry and aaron thanks for spreading the word on this issue as well.....

D.K. Raed said...

As far as T-Giving, E.K. (vietvet) reminded me that most bases have a local outreach program, where you can make one or two vets part of your family tradition for the day. Contact the base & ask. There are guys who are far from home that are really missing the family scene. It might seem hokey, but sometimes it helps.

ps, no wonder the army desertion rate is the highest since 1980.

Mary said...

D.K- What an excellent suggestion.

E4E- This is a great post. Lots of good information.

Fran said...

It was interesting the military was loath to give up the info.... the reporter really had to push do the formal freedom of information act request & even then they were reluctant to give numbers.
Obviously, this clashes with their need to get more recruits. but the families who are going through it, and the individual with the disorder may in fact deny anything is wrong.
there was a great article in the local newspaper on Veterans day that said the VA was kind of like a classic clinic. NEEEXT.. they were processing people as if they were numbers. If a vet got to a place they tried to go for help, the locals said there was a lack of compassion. the support network was just not there. So some vets wound up forming their own network to help others going through the same thing. Stuff like the Tri Care insurance is only good at medical facilities over a hundred miles away. they would approcah local physicians, face to face & get a *yes* in the same conversation. Now this Vet can go to a nearby Doctor. One less stress factor that could have prevented the person from getting needed help- be it medical or psychological or both.
Of course the current admin would not make this a priority.... but PTSD is not something that will go away if you ignore it.
Sadly, I bet there are lots of innocent citizen Iraqis who are traumatized as well-- what is the hope of them getting treatment?

enigma4ever said...

Thanks to all for coming Mary, Fran and Anok, you all have given great oberservations, and we must keep learning and studying this. Please do forward any of this to MSM, and let's hope they start is a serious issue.

The Iraqis are suffering as well...Depression rates and suicides are up, as well as drug abuse...we have so many messes on so many fronts...yet CNN asks the Dem Can about diamonds or pearls- the Shame....