A Duty of Care: Can Awareness Programs Prevent Suicide Among Veterans?

Preventing Suicide Among VeteransThe experience of war in the service of the country changes a person. But though their service might come to an end, many soldiers return home fighting a different battle — mental illness. Some of them are better able to adapt, while some are not so fortunate.

According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, an average of 20 veterans took their lives each day in 2014. Of this number, approximately 65% of these veterans were over the age of 50. Additionally, the folks with Hospice of the Calumet Area report that as veterans get older, traumatic memories have a tendency to resurface and cause depression. Left untreated, it could lead to suicide.

Older veterans, therefore, need targeted care, comfort and support in order to freely enjoy their lives’ final chapter. So, how can people prevent suicide among aging veterans?

What Do They Need?

The line of duty exposes soldiers to sights, knowledge and experiences that their civilian relatives and friends may be ill-equipped to understand. Elderly veterans, therefore, need people who are knowledgeable about caring for those struggling with war trauma.

Also necessary in caring for at-risk veterans is the knowledge and understanding the signs. Veterans in hospice-care settings, therefore, should have responsive and compassionate carers on standby. Most of all, sometimes all they really need is someone they feel they can count on.

How Can Awareness Help?

There used to be a lot of stigma surrounding the topics of suicide and mental health. However, through the efforts of awareness programs like the 22 pushup challenge, which aims to promote awareness on the sensitive but crucial topic of suicide among veterans, people have begun to talk about their experiences and realize that they don’t have to deal with their condition on their own. Many other programs are starting to follow suit.

Sometimes, that’s all someone who’s struggling needs — they just need someone who will listen and tell them that taking their own life is not an option.

One person lost to suicide, many advocates say, is one too many. And they’re right.