WESTERN MASS VETERANS OUTREACH PROJECT
Depression & Suicide Prevention
Traumatic stress may produce a sense of loss in relation to disrupted relationships, conflictual separations from a loved one, disillusionment with a commanding officer, or disruptions in faith and hope associated with shame, guilt, and moral injury. Depression may also stimulate suicidal thoughts and behavior along with an inclination to harm oneself with substances and self-inflicted injury.
Veterans with post-traumatic stress or depression are at increased risk for suicidal ideation.
Among many but not all veterans, mental health conditions or substance abuse disorders have become more prevalent in recent years. In military culture, mental health problems are often seen as a weakness and are highly stigmatized. This is a major reason why many active-duty members and veterans do not seek treatment for their mental health condition.
Combat veterans are often exposed to multiple traumatic episodes throughout their military careers. While some studies have found that combat trauma is related to suicide, others have not, meaning the heightened risk of suicide may depend on how intense and how often a veteran experienced combat trauma. Some service members can experience traumatic events; combat related or not, and walk away without significant effects, while others are haunted forever. Every veteran has a different experience during their time in service and no two veteran's experiences are the same.
Depression is a topic that holds particular significance for our nation's veterans, many of whom struggle with mental health issues that stem from combat, deployment, declining physical health and readjusting to civilian life.
Suicide affects veterans disproportionately. Although Veterans represent less than 6 percent of the total population, they account for more than 14 percent of all suicides, according to the latest U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs report on suicide. According to the Veterans Administration (VA), each day, 20 veterans die by suicide. Veterans have a 41 to 61 percent higher risk of suicide than nonveterans. Their rate of depression is five times higher than civilians. (See reports here: https://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=5565 and this article: https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/2018/11/suicide-among-veterans-and-why-it-matters/).
For additional information on depression among Veterans, visit https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/mentalhealth/depression/index.asp
For additional information on suicidality among Veterans, visit https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/suicide prevention/index.asp