Did you know, Veterans between the ages of 55 and 74 are more at risk for death by suicide than the US population as a whole? According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, death by suicide, within this age range, consists of 38 percent of all Veteran deaths in 2017. The 2018 Department of Defense Annual Suicide Report reveals that 514 Active Duty Military Members died by suicide and there were over 1,300 suicide attempts.
There are many factors that cause suicidal attempts or thoughts, such as mental health conditions, stressful life events, PTSD, or family history, but it is important to identify certain behaviors, warning signs, and red flags in yourself or a loved one before a crisis occurs.
While some suicidal warning signs are verbal, others are behavioral or emotional. Understanding what to look for is key. If you recognize any of the following behaviors, we encourage you or your loved one to seek support.
1. Verbal Warnings
Some of the most concerning warning signs of suicide are direct or indirect verbal statements. If someone outwardly shares that they are experiencing suicidal thoughts or a plan to commit suicide, they should never be ignored. Verbal warnings can come in different phrases or forms, such as:
Directly speaking or writing about thoughts of suicide.
Being preoccupied or obsessed with morbid thoughts or death.
The feeling of hopelessness and explanation of long-term planning.
Frequent “good-bye” discussions with friends and family members, including writing a suicide note.
Continuous expression of worthlessness, as if you are a burden to those around you.
2. Behavioral Warnings
Behavioral warnings may be harder to spot. Becoming aware of why behaviors have changed or listening to people who have noticed a change can help identify suicidal tendencies.
Obsessing and researching lethal means, such as firearms, drug usage, or other ways to die.
Illegal or misused prescription drug use.
Self-isolation, including declining friends and family of their company, missing work, or avoiding public places.
Risky or self-destructive behaviors become a habit. This includes excessive drug use through prescribed or illegal substances and engaging in violent acts with others or yourself.
An over-sense of calm can indicate that someone may have a plan for suicide, especially when expressing depressive behaviors.
Sleep deprivation, loss of appetite, over-eating, and poor hygiene can indicate depression and anxiety.
3. Overall Mood Warnings
People experiencing thoughts of suicide will usually exhibit mood changes or swings. If you or your loved one are dealing with a mental health illness, please seek help. Some mood behaviors include:
Overly anxious, agitated
Bouts of depression and anxiety
Rage, anger, short temperament
Humiliation and shame
4. Warning Signs for Critical Need
The warning signs listed above may go unnoticed or are cast aside as not serious. If you or a loved one exhibit any of the following signs, seek immediate medical attention:
Violent outbursts, including property damage, violence, or repeated self-harm.
Plans for following through on how and when to attempt suicide.
Uncaring about consequences when engaging in risky activities, tempting fate.
Giving away prized possessions.
Many people may feel these things occasionally, but when these actions or feelings are frequent and not appearing to get better, it is recommended by the VA and other crisis centers to reach out. Prevention for suicide starts early, so it is never too soon to talk with someone.
Suicide rates skyrocket when critical warning signs are ignored. If left untreated, your loved one could be in danger. Prevention is the first step to alleviating the climbing suicide rates in America. It is important to note that there are many resources available where you can ask questions, understand suicidal symptoms and behaviors, and decide the type of medical assistance or counseling required to help.
Are you thinking about suicide? We urge you to please talk to someone. Call 1-800-273-8255 to speak to someone immediately, 24 hours a day.
The Veterans Health Administration & Department of Defense Should be Held Accountable for Preventable Suicides
The VA & DOD claim suicide prevention is one of their top clinical priorities and they have developed the most comprehensive suicide prevention policies and procedures that exist. Sadly, these policies and procedures are not always implemented and followed. Staff are not adequately trained on these policies and the VA & DOD fail to employ a sufficient number of well-qualified, caring staff to carry them out. When problems are identified after a Veteran or Active Duty Military Member has died by or attempted suicide, no corrective action is taken to remedy the problem. Unfortunately, it then falls through the cracks of these bureaucratic systems. Sadly, these breaches in the duty of care by the the VA & DOD result in the tragic death by suicide of our Nation’s Veterans and Active Duty Military Members.
United States Veterans & Active Duty Military Members deserve the highest level of mental care possible to prevent them from death by suicide. The VA & DOD should be held accountable when they breach the duty of care they owe to take reasonable steps that would prevent the death by suicide of our Nation’s Veterans and Active Duty Military Members. Bertling Law Group is committed to holding the VA & DOD responsible when their negligence, malpractice and incompetence cause or contribute to the death by suicide of our Nation’s heroes and protectors.
Bertling Law Group has a nationwide practice where we provide compassionate representation to the families of Veterans and Active Duty Military Members when their loved one has died by or attempted death by suicide. We are here to help you find out (1) why your loved one died by suicide; (2) obtain the maximum compensation for the loss of your loved one; and (3) advocate for necessary changes within the VA & DOD in order to prevent future tragic deaths by suicide. If you would like to tell us your story, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 844-295-7558 for a free and confidential consultation.