Note: This is an archived post from J McClain on the legacy Best of Us website available at https://bestofuscommunity.wordpress.com/

So this article was shown to me yesterday and since I read it it’s been haunting me somewhat.

http://www.militarytimes.com/story/military/pentagon/2015/09/30/dod-releases-2nd-quarter-suicide-figures/73096494/

In 2014 the numbers show 534  Active duty ,Reserve, and National  Guard deaths due to suicide. Take a second and just think about that  number 534. Now think about the statistic of 22 veterans not currently  serving in an active or reserve capacity a day committing suicide. These  numbers largely rely on states reporting and knowing if they had a  veteran status for suicide numbers reported. Well in case you aren’t in  the know the systems for bothering to look into a persons veterans  status is wholly inadequate as you can expect in any bureaucratic  system. This also doesn’t take into account those who accidentally  overdose on drugs. Drug abuse is widely used to cope with the reality of  living with Post Traumatic Stress. These numbers are unfathomable! If  as many people died form Ebola as die from Veteran Suicide the CDC would  quarantine the entire country and people would be in an absolute panic.

This is the reality we as veterans find ourselves living in every  day. Our community is a small one and the evidence of the impact this is  having on us can be seen everyday.

I wake up with my cup of coffee and turn on my computer and browse my  facebook (which is primarily used to keep in touch with my Army family)  and I am notified it’s my buddy’s birthday. His page was never taken  down since his passing in March from a drug overdose. He had been trying  to come to grips with the realities of living through our deployment in  Afghanistan and hadn’t been getting the help that he needed at the VA  so he turned to drug abuse to escape it.  I saw posts from his mother  and his sister as well as some of my brothers from the platoon I  deployed with. All I could do is sit there completely all consumed in  the reality of his absence. I can see the grief in the posts on his page  and it weighs on me. I’m laid upon by a dark and daunting morass of  emotion. This is a man who I went through war with. Damn near every good  memory I have from my war experience involves him. I’m reminded of  pulling shitty ass night time guard duty to looking across our position  at him eyes wide and face pale as the 107mm rockets start coming in  around us  , even being pinned down by enemy fire and nearly being wiped  off this earth by a well placed RPG as we made movement to a better  position. I had the experience of being part of a group of men that  would unquestioningly die for me and I for them. His loss is so deeply  felt by me and the other 30 men that were on that small outpost in the  mountains of Afghanistan I don’t know that there are words to quantify  it.

This level of connection is repeated through out the entire military.  Breaking these connections is absolutely devastating to us. We are a  demographic that is in absolute crisis. We need to be there for each  other and watch over one another. The stigma that it is weak to seek out  help for mental health issues need to be combated on all fronts and we  need to do a better job of reaching out and bringing up the hard issues.

I leave you with this message and plead with you to’Break the Stigma’of seeking out help to deal with mental health issues.

If you or a loved one is a Veteran who is contemplating suicide and  are in crisis please please call 1-800-273- 8255 and press 1.

If you are need of seeking treatment I would recommend looking at the  program “Give an Hour” they are a great program that provides  counseling to military veterans  and family members

http://www.giveanhour.org/

To learn more about identifying the potential signs of suicide visit

http://www.veteranscrisisline.net/SignsOfCrisis/Identifying.aspx