Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may increase a veteran’s risk for suicide or attempted suicide. When PTSD becomes deadly, you can help to save their lives by knowing the signs to look for and how to get them the treatment they need.
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs is active in veteran suicide prevention, including offering programs to family members, friends and others in the community to help them spot the signs and offer help. There are also several non-profit organizations dedicated to the cause. Still, veterans die from suicide every day, and many of them have undiagnosed, untreated, or unmanaged PTSD.
The Relationship Between PTSD and Suicide
PTSD can increase a veteran’s risk of suicide. Not only is it difficult to relive traumatic experiences and live with the fear of flashbacks or nightmares, but this disorder is also linked to a number of other mental health concerns including depression, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders. By understanding PTSD and its dangers, and getting the PTSD treatment necessary, many veterans can reduce their risk of suicide.
Still, like other mental health concerns, PTSD can be difficult to identify, and some veterans do not want to discuss their symptoms. If you or a loved one experience signs of PTSD or you worry they may be at risk of suicide, offer support. Help them understand that you are there for them unconditionally and that they can seek treatment. In an emergency situation, they can:
- Call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1
- Chat online with a trained counselor familiar with veterans’ needs
Spotting Warning Signs of Suicidal Ideation or Tendencies
In some cases, family members and friends can help prevent PTSD from becoming deadly by recognizing the warning signs of suicidal ideation and suicide. According to the Mayo Clinic, these include:
- Talking about suicide or making statements about wishing they were dead
- Obtaining pills, accessing a gun, or collecting other means of taking their own life
- Becoming withdrawn
- Having significant and unusual mood swings
- Becoming preoccupied with death or violence
- Saying they feel trapped or hopeless
- An increase in the use of drugs or alcohol
- Unexplained change in eating or sleeping habits
- Acting in self-destructive ways, such as careless handling of a firearm
- Giving away belongings or taking other steps to “get affairs in order”
- Personality changes, such as becoming severely anxious or agitated
If you see these signs in a loved one or veteran in your community, take action to help them get the treatment they need. They may have undiagnosed or poorly treated PTSD or another mental health concern linked to the high veteran suicide rate.
Getting Treatment and VA Disability Benefits
Getting treatment for PTSD is one of the best ways to reduce the risk that this mental health concern will lead to suicidal thoughts. The veteran may also qualify for VA disability benefits if they have a PTSD diagnosis related to service.
Talk to a VA Disability Lawyer About Challenging a VA Benefits Denial
When PTSD threatens to become deadly and you need help for a veteran now, a VA disability lawyer can help fight a VA disability benefits denial. Call (888) 392-5392 today to get started.