Veterans who struggle with mental health and post-traumatic stress disorder are at an increased risk of suicide. In addition, co-existing conditions like substance abuse, depression, and anxiety can cause an increased risk. If you or a loved one has a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnosis or other mental health condition, you need to know how to recognize suicide ideation and tendencies.
Signs of Suicide Ideation or Tendencies
If you live or work with a veteran with PTSD, depression, or other mental health condition, or who you believe may be suicidal, it is paramount that you know how to recognize suicide ideation or tendencies. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, some things to look for include:
A Change in Behavior
If a friend or family member is struggling with suicidal thoughts, they may change their behaviors. They could stop participating in favorite activities or pick up new habits, for example. This could include:
- New or increased use of alcohol or drugs
- Searching for, discussing, or thinking about ways to commit suicide
- Withdrawing from previously enjoyed hobbies and other activities
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- A sudden, unexplained change in sleeping habits
- Visiting or calling people they do not often talk to, sometimes telling them goodbye
- Giving away prized possessions or taking other actions to “get their affairs in order”
- Unusual aggression
Talking About Suicide
A person with suicide ideation may talk about suicide, death, and violent topics more frequently. This could include topics such as:
- Killing themselves
- Feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
- Wishing they were dead or never born
- Worrying about being a burden to others
- Feeling trapped
- Suffering unbearable pain
A Change in Mood
Identifying a sudden change in mood and emotions in your loved one may be key to recognizing suicide ideation. Those contemplating suicide often experience:
- Loss of interest and withdrawal
- Shame, humiliation, and embarrassment
- Agitation and anger
- A sudden improvement or relief when they put a plan in place
If you spot any combination of these symptoms, offer your support and help the veteran get the help they need from their doctor or VA. For emergency help, you can call 911, visit the nearest VA medical center, or have the veteran call the VA Veterans Crisis Line at 800-273-8255.
Friends and Family Can Help Prevent Suicide
The Cleveland Clinic advises friends, family members, and others in the community to take action to prevent suicide. They recommend:
- Learning the risk factors
- Remaining alert about spotting early signs of depression or other risk factors
- Recognizing suicide ideation or tendencies
- Intervening as early as possible
Veterans With Suicide Ideation or Tendencies May Qualify for VA Disability
If you are a veteran with PTSD, depression, anxiety, or another similar condition, you may be eligible for VA Disability Compensation benefits. These are based on your diagnosis and supporting documents linking your condition to something that happened during your service.
With your disability rating, you can get access to health care as well as relieve some of the financial stress that may cause additional hardship. This could be what you need to help you overcome suicide ideation and tendencies.
A VA benefits advocate can help you access financial aid to rebuild your life. From gathering the documentation needed to file a claim to securing the amount you deserve, an advocate will be by your side throughout the process.
A VA Disability Advocate Can Help You Fight a Denial
If VA denies your claim for disability benefits or gives you a low disability rating, a VA disability advocate can help you challenge their decision. You do not have to try to fight a denial on your own. Call (888) 373-4722 now to learn how a disability advocate can help.