SCUBAPRO Sunday – Veterans Suicide

“The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the Veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.” — President George Washington

With today being the day after the 20th anniversary of 9/11 and September being suicide awareness month, I wanted to write about something close to me. I have lost some very good friends to suicide — people you never thought in a thousand years would take their own lives. They were among the best dads you could ever meet, truly the people you think of when you imagine great fathers. As colleagues, when it came to being a team guy, a teammate, or friend, you couldn’t find better ones. Since the war on terror started, we have lost a lot of brothers and sisters to war, but we are losing four times as many veterans to the effects of war than to the war itself.

Most of the time, suicide is only discussed when it is or affects someone close to you. I think it is very misunderstood, specifically when it concerns what causes people to do it or even to think that it’s the only way out. I believe there is a lot of speculation and misdiagnosis, but I also think no one really wants to talk about it. Many veterans are suffering from a host of different things that can be both physical and/or mental. Depending on what report you read, up to 22 veterans commit suicide every day. Some reports are higher and some lower, but they are not that far apart. Regardless of the daily number, Veterans have the highest suicide rate amongst ANY group.  It is not just the vets from the War on Terror, either. This number represents all the wars and conflicts from which we still have survivors.  And it’s not only a U.S. problem, as many of our allies are dealing with the same issues.  If you know someone or you might be having problems, PLEASE talk to someone, anyone.  The Veterans Crisis Line is 1-800-273-8255 and press 1.

I have lost some very close friends to suicide, and I never want it to happen to anyone. Please look out for the signs and symptoms; sometimes they are easy to see, while other times you have no clue, and it will happen to someone close to you.  But if you are thinking of hurting yourself, please talk to someone. If you believe the world is better with you not in it, it is not. The people you leave behind will always have to deal with what happened and still have to think they could have done more. I know I do, but I also know I did all I could have done to help. But there will always be that .01% that thinks “I could have done more to help my brother”.  People, especially military people, are good at hiding things and it’s not always easy to see. Please keep an eye on your brothers and sisters. I look at the military as a family.

One Response to “SCUBAPRO Sunday – Veterans Suicide”

  1. Francis Marion says:

    This is an important subject that nearly all veterans have at least indirect experience with. That said the opening quote above may not be from Washington and the Mount Vernon estate considers it “spurious” along with some other damn good quotes.