Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Military suicides hit record high in 2012: From Fox 21 News

Military suicides hit an all time high in 2012, according to the Pentagon, at a staggering 349. That's almost one a day.

This weekend an organization is helping some of their family members left behind.

The organization is called the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors or TAPS and they help military families who have lost a loved one.

This weekend they are focused on those who have lost a loved one to suicide. It's a growing problem and one that they say can be prevented.

"It's a big issue and it's been an ongoing issue. I think as our troops come back home and try to reintegrate into the community it's going to still be an issue for us," Kim Ruocco, Director of Postvention Programs for TAPS, said.

In 2012 more American soldiers died of suicide than in combat. They left behind grieving family and friends asking why?
"Wondering if they could have done something different. Did they miss something? Should they have said something different, done something different? Why didn't they notice that their loved one was in so much pain?" Ruocco said.

According to TAPS at least two people reach out to them every day for help coping with a military death by suicide.

"Peer based support is really the number one thing that survivors of suicide tell us is healing. They want to talk to somebody else who understand their pain, who understand their journey," Ruocco said.

Anyone can be at risk for suicide but those in the military face additional stressors like deployment and combat exposure.

"They also have a culture that is hesitant to ask for help, that is hesitant to say that I am suffering with invisible wounds," Ruocco said.

Ruocco said family and friends need to look for signs that their loves ones may be struggling.

"It's a change in behavior, and it's a loss of joy in things that they used to love. It's issues like sleeplessness and anxiety, outbursts, agitation."

The earlier a problem can be detected the more likely it can be fixed.

"Everybody, everybody, is at risk for suicide. And so we can't discount anybody from being at risk. We've got to pay attention to even the people that you think are the strongest," Ruocco said.

More than 400 adults and 100 children are expected to attend the TAPS National Military Suicide Survivor Seminar this weekend at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort.

Anyone needing help can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK)

Any military family members looking for help dealing with a loss can call the 24/7 TAPS helpline at 1-800-959-8277.