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NEWS | Sept. 1, 2015

Suicide and Stress ... Combat Stress

By Lt. Col. David Faggard 1st Combat Camera Squadron

Suicide seems to be a more common occurrence today in the military than when I first joined.

According to government data being highlighted in mainstream media and online, 22 veterans are "successfully" committing suicide daily. While every day life pressures and combat stress are challenges, they are temporary. An issue that may seem insurmountable today may not be tomorrow.  There are so many options for Airmen and other veterans to "successfully" deal with temporary problems other than a permanent solution like suicide. 

The majority of suicide issues I've dealt with in my career were related to stress--primarily money, significant-other or work-related issues.  Now, I also see combat stress, which is magnified by everyday life pressures.  All these stress-inducing situations are temporary; suicide is not. 

The military prides itself on innovation and ingenuity in the face of serious problems. We should approach  the various types of stress as  temporary problems we service members must deal with--and overcome--every day together.

According to Military One Source, there are people in our community who may be more at risk than others: a young, unmarried man who has recently returned from deployment; someone who may be experiencing health problems or also someone who may have a heavy drinking or substance abuse problem.

Those identified above may also be dealing with combat stress.  Some warning signs, according to Military One Source, include: problems sleeping, uncharacteristic irritability or angry outbursts, unusual anxiety or panic attacks and signs of depression (such as apathy, persistent sadness, feelings of hopelessness, poor hygiene).

It is important to remember, no one needs to deal with stress alone.  There are thousands of service members, ready to help. 

There are professionals at every level of the Department of Defense willing to engage.  Many local options at Joint Base Charleston are available; including talking with supervisors, first sergeants and commanders.  If command channels aren't possible, there are other options to include the Chaplain at (843) 963-2536 on the Air Base or (843) 764-7222 on the Weapons Station, the mental health flight in the Medical Group at (843) 963-6852 and even anonymous discussions with Military One Source or the Veterans Crisis Line to name just a few.

Help is just digits away at 1-800-273-8255 or through confidential chat and text, 838255.  There are also options for peer-to-peer consultations for stress and many other areas.

At a moment in time, a stressful situation may seem like a problem that has no solution; but they all do.