3 Ways to Lower Suicide Risk Among Veterans

The veteran population has a high risk of homelessness, addiction, and suicide. In fact, these risks are higher than that of many other groups. The trauma of war can leave them mentally incapable of a solitary existence with many needing regular counseling for PTSD and depression. Without proper help and outlets, suicide is a very real risk for the veteran population. Here are a few ways to ensure the veteran in your life does not end up a statistic:

Seek Professional Help

A counselor with experience dealing with the unique needs of veterans is critical when treating a suicidal veteran. Veterans share a specific life experience that should not be lumped in with other types of trauma. Along with one-on-one sessions, it can also be beneficial to join support groups consisting of other veterans.

Older veterans might have tips and advice for handling depression and suicidal thoughts while a counselor will get to know your loved one specifically and suggest personalized treatment. To find these groups, you may want to first try your local veteran’s hospital.

Adopt a Therapy Animal

An increasingly common treatment for PTSD is pairing the veteran with a specially-trained therapy dog. These dogs are trained to mitigate the side effects of PTSD including panic attacks. Even owning an untrained dog can be extremely beneficial as they have been shown to increase the lifespan and decrease the stress levels of their owners.

Having a dog in the home prevents the veteran from ever being truly alone while providing them the comfort of an animal that is fully capable of detecting human emotions. Pet ownership may also have the added effect of accountability. With a loving pet looking toward the veteran for food, shelter, and love, it becomes much more difficult to contemplate suicide.

Find an Outlet

Building a series of healthy outlets is key in dealing with any mental turmoil. For many, it can be tempting to escape their problems with drugs, alcohol or even suicide. These responses are partially due to an inability to cope in a healthy manner.

An easy and accessible hobby can be an extraordinarily useful tool in battling PTSD and suicidal thoughts. Rather than thoughts of suicide, it may become a habit to turn to the hobby. Some good options might be crocheting, gardening, exercising, and woodworking.

Hobbies that are useful in some way can double as a way to improve self-worth. For example, gardening is a way the veteran can feed himself or his family, feeling the accomplishment of being self-sustaining. Those who enjoy crocheting often donate items like hats and scarves to homeless shelters. Your loved one may find a useful outlet in donating crocheted goods to veteran shelters.

Whether they channel their energy into growing a vegetable garden or handcrafting furniture, the goal is for them to keep themselves healthy enough mentally and physically to feel well. Find a good counselor, consider bringing an animal in need to your home, and find a hobby your loved one enjoys. Veteran status does not mean life should become a struggle.

 

Steve Johnson has always been dedicated to promoting health and wellness in all aspects of life. Studying in the medical field has shown him how important it is for reputable health-related facts, figures, tips, and other guidance to be readily available to the public. He created PublicHealthLibrary.org with a fellow student to act as a resource for people’s overall health inquiries and as an accurate and extensive source of health information. When he isn’t hard at work in his studies, Steve enjoys playing tennis and listening to his vintage record collection.

 


Carole Stokes-Brewer
PHD, LISW-S, LICDC-CS

2200 Victory Parkway, Suite 602, Cincinnati OH  45206

513-244-6990

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