Saturday, July 7, 2018

Why do we still suck at suicide prevention?

Stop Raising Harmful Awareness
Combat PTSD Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
July 7, 2018

What does Combat PTSD Wounded Times stand for?
Combat means to fight and the message we're delivering is, PTSD is a wound and everyone has the ability to fight to heal. Plain and simply. Right? 

Apparently not considering the headlines of news publications from coast to coast continue to push a number of lives they think were lost instead of pushing how to change the outcome.

This is a headline from WTKR

Marine Corps veteran to complete suicide awareness walk
While that may seem like a helpful thing to do, it isn't. It is not because the "number" does not represent reality. The VA did not say it was "22 a day" when we consider the detail of the reports they released since 2012.

The number "22" was taken from limited data from just 21 states. The report cautioned against using it as the definitive outcome of tremendous loss of life far beyond what wars have claimed.

This is what was in the article from WTKR
On average, 22 veterans and active duty personnel take their own life every day. That number is even more staggering when you consider the fact that veterans make up just 7 percent of the population, but account for 20 percent of all suicides in this country, according to the group.
Mindful of the fact that the suicide rate among first responders is also rising, the Virginia Beach Fire Department is once again answering the call for support from END 22.
Well, maybe that is a approbate title of "End 22" since we need to end that conversation. It does not work!

The latest report from the VA has the known number of veterans committing suicide has not changed, even though we lost millions of veterans since 1999 when the known number was also 20 a day. As bad as that is, there are only 22 states tracking the number of veterans in their state committing suicide.

What makes all this worse is that the numbers released from the VA only go up to 2015. What happened to the following three years is anyone's guess. That is the biggest problem of all since too many are "guessing" instead of knowing.

What we do not know is how many are left out of the reports. 

Honorably discharged veterans were considered veterans but when there is anything other than that type of discharge, they are not even considered worth mentioning. Does not seem to matter that many of them had multiple deployments, but were kicked out because of untreated PTSD.

Veterans who moved out of the country are not counted in any of these reports. The list goes on, but basically, you get the idea of what all these "efforts" to raise awareness do not know. All of the reports from the VA also state the vast majority of veterans committing suicide are over the age of 50, yet these men and women have been left out of news reports and all the "awareness" being passed around on social media.

If they are not talking about the reality veterans face on a daily basis, lazy reporters won't report the facts and then the general public, contrary to also held belief, are not on social media, will assume "awareness" shared is all they need to know.

This has turned into a billion dollar industry with results akin to a great advertising campaign for snake oil salesmen hawking their useless cure!

What we do know is that the Department of Defense releases quarterly reports for all branches. Sure, they are a little late of the releasing of the data, but it gives us an idea of what is actually failing, since the numbers have remained consistently averaging 500 a year since 2012.

This shows the numbers of active duty suicides from 2017, along with a chart from 2012.
Since the VA is unable to update their research, we need to consider those numbers as a basis for understanding what is not working so we can stop sucking at preventing suicides.

Social media is robbing veterans and others of the chance to find hope that their next day can be better than this lousy day is!

How do expect the outcome to be changed if we continue to repeat what failed?

In 2013 The Warrior Saw, Suicides After War was published using publicly available data and news reports proving that Congress, the DOD and the VA spent billions, but had nothing to show for any of it. 
Military and veteran suicides are higher even though billions are spent every year trying to prevent them. After years of research most can be connected to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD has been researched for 40 years yet most of what was known has been forgotten. Families are left blaming themselves for what they were never told. Reporters have failed to research. Congress failed at holding people accountable. The military failed at giving them the help they need. We failed to pay attention.

We paid for it with our taxes, but veterans paid for it with their lives.

We should have changed the conversation that was started back in 2003! That is when I wrote For the Love of Jack, His War/My Battle. Which is still for sale even though the publisher Xlibris was supposed to stop printing it!

and this was the answer back then!


But why should they be different than all the others making money off the suffering that has been going on for decades?

Veterans and families cannot afford lawyers to do a class action lawsuit against the DOD, the VA or the people making money while producing a delusion! 

We're all just supposed to settle for what we are told and they get away with it because no one can afford to sue for wrongful deaths in the thousands any more than I can afford to sue Xlibris! 

Back in 2003 I wanted to warn people about what was coming on PTSD and suicides. I ended up giving the book away for free, considering I was not making money from my work or my life. I am still not making money trying to save lives. Hell, that is what this was supposed to be about! Wasn't it?