Helping Military Families Support Their Warriors: Resources to Help Prevent Suicide
WASHINGTON, Sept. 28, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Now more than ever it is critical that military families are equipped with the necessary tools and resources to support warriors facing the threat of suicide.
Military families can educate themselves about the warning signs and risk factors of suicide, learn how to seek help, and find a network of support through the Real Warriors Campaign (http://www.realwarriors.net/). The campaign, an initiative of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE), promotes the processes of building resilience, facilitating recovery and supporting reintegration of returning service members, veterans and their families. With resources from the Real Warriors Campaign, families can help improve the mental fitness of their warriors and lead by example by taking action to seek help.
Recognize Risk Factors and Warning Signs
While there is no known cause for suicide, research has shown that there are certain factors that increase the risk for suicide. Understanding risk factors and warning signs can help alert family members to a possible suicide attempt. Behavioral warning signs include increased substance use, withdrawal from society, trouble sleeping, and reckless behavior. Emotional warning signs include anxiousness, hopelessness, rage, uncontrolled anger, and dramatic mood changes.
Following his second deployment to Iraq, Real Warriors Campaign volunteer Army Maj. Jeff Hall became increasingly angry and began pushing away his family. His wife, Sheri, said, "I could tell when he walked in the door of the hangar, he wasn't the same man. He would say things, and his eyes would become black, and that wasn't Jeff at all." She began to be seriously worried when Maj. Hall said "I just want you to go away. Take everything, take the kids and just go away." Sheri knew she couldn't leave him alone in this condition.
Get Involved and Seek Help
Sometimes, warriors may try and hide the signs that they are coping with invisible wounds; however, family members should not be afraid to approach their warrior. They should ask specific and direct questions about suicidal thoughts, plans, and intent. Families should not try to try to act as a counselor or therapist, but rather express concern and emphasize that seeking professional care is a sign of strength. By connecting with professionals and joining a support network, both military families and service members will realize that they are not alone, help is available and it works.
After identifying suicidal risk factors, Sheri Hall had the courage and strength to reach out to Maj. Hall's commanding officer about concerns of her husband's negativity at home and feelings of hopelessness. Due to the involvement of Maj. Hall's family and support network, he was able to get the care and support he needed to overcome his psychological health concerns.
Military families and the support and encouragement they provide are essential to preventing suicide and saving lives. For more tools and resources for military families, visit the Real Warriors Campaign online at http://www.realwarriors.net/ or contact the DCoE Outreach Center to talk with trained health resource consultants for assistance 24/7 by calling 866-966-1020. If you are in crisis, please call the Military Crisis Line at 800-273-8255 and press 1.
SOURCE Real Warriors Campaign