During times of war, we’re unfortunately conditioned to expect some causalities. But what isn’t expected are deaths that occur later from suicide.
How can we explain the deaths of veterans who survive combat, but then commit suicide after their return?
Tamera Coyne-Beasley, MD, MPH presented findings at the Pediatric Academic Societies May 2010 annual meeting about the violent deaths of young veterans in North Carolina.
Between 2004 and 2006, she found that 132 veterans between the ages of 18 and 34 died violently, 70% due to suicides. Of those who committed suicide, 43% had a history of mental illness, particularly depression, and all had a crisis in the two weeks prior to their deaths.
The Journal of Traumatic Stress reported last August that Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who were diagnosed with PTSD were four times more likely to have suicide-related thoughts than veterans who weren’t diagnosed with PTSD. As many as 46% of veterans in the study experienced suicidal thoughts and/or behaviors in the month prior to seeking care.
Clearly we need to come up with better ways to treat and prevent casualties from all kinds of trauma.
If this is of concern to you, check out the work of Pat Ogden, PhD on the sensorimotor approach for treating trauma.
Dr. Ogden’s expertise has been featured in many of our programs on trauma treatment.
Meanwhile, leave a comment below and let us know what you think.