Military Suicide Solutions are a Top Focus Across Branches This Holiday Season

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    No one wants to lose a loved one. People are already having to say goodbye to those who die from COVID. Let’s not lose anyone because of military suicide. In most instances, suicides can be prevented – but it takes understanding and communication.

    Suicide solutions have become a top military focus across all branches this holiday season.

    A recent podcast from Military Times hosted by Duane France, a retired Army combat veteran as well as Shauna Springer, a psychologist with a background in how to help the military commander welcomed a special guest.

    Dr. Amy Taft joined the podcast to talk about military suicides. Taft has a background of being the Founder of the Third Star Foundation and is also an educator and caregiver.

    With the rising rate of suicides in the military and among veterans, it’s clear that something has to be done.

    There are new insights on suicide prevention – and this includes clinical and peer support practices. When service members and families are aware of the solutions and the strategies that can be employed, it makes it easier to prevent losing loved ones.

    Suicides have been spiking, and even The Pentagon has expressed concern. Across all services, the rise has been noticeable. The death rate per 100,000 rose from 20.25 in 2015 to 25.9 in 2019. And 2020 numbers are proving to be no better, particularly as the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many to have to stay indoors and be sealed away from close contact with peers.

    Third Star Foundation is an organization founded by Taft to provide support to children after a veteran or service member comes home with a wound or injury from their time in the service. The idea is to ensure that the children are able to express emotions in healthy ways – and also bring awareness to child suicide.

    Anyone in a veteran or service member family can be subject to suicide – and knowing this is half the battle. Many assume that it’s just the person who was injured during service. It’s also the spouse who may feel helpless or the kids who simply don’t understand what is going on.

    When anyone feels as though they’re isolated and have no one to talk to about the emotions they’re dealing with, suicide can be more prominent. The military youth haven’t been examined over the years – and it can be startling to see that the children are not doing as well as many assume that they are.

    Conversations need to happen inside the military community – particularly about the increase in youth suicides within military families. Children can and will kill themselves. The conversations are happening in civilian communities, but why aren’t they happening inside of the DoD and VA? This is one of the topics that Dr. Taft brought up – and it’s one of the reasons why she founded the Third Star Foundation.

    It comes down to communication. Kids need someone within their age group that they can talk to when things get tough. The same thing goes for adults. Are adults able to sit down and talk with someone when a rough conversation needs to be had? It doesn’t have to be a mental health counselor. It can be a friend, a mentor, or even a significant other.

    Everyone within the military community can be affected by depression and isolation. Assuming that it’s only the service member or only those who have recently been deployed can put the attention on the wrong individuals.

    With suicide rates going up, it’s clear that something has to be done – and the solution is to talk about it and provide families with resources. Meanwhile, as the administration changes in DC, it means that the new Secretary of Veteran Affairs will have his work cut out for him. The problem, however, is that Biden chose Denis McDonough – someone who has never been a veteran.

    We can only hope that McDonough has enough sense to meet with individuals like Dr. Taft to understand the issues running rampant.

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