A GUN + Depressed Veteran can = Suicide
According to the Secretary for California’s Department of Veteran’s Affairs, 11% of active duty military entered the service from California. Therefore, we can expect an influx of recently discharged veterans to return to California in the next few years.
In a 2009 study conducted at Stanford University, the authors estimated that about 35 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, or about 700,000, will be diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Further, according to a report of the Veterans Administration, a diagnosis of PTSD is highly related to suicide among veterans. Since veterans have experience with guns and usually own guns, suicide with guns is highly likely. It is, therefore, paramount that educational programs be launched to inform the public and veterans groups of this relationship in order to reduce the incidence of suicide with guns among veterans.
Suicide can happen in any family. Coping with PTSD, physical or mental illness, divorce, social isolation and/or loneliness can lead to suicidal thoughts. In 2012, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) reported that 18 military veterans die by suicide every day. More veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have died by their own hand than died from enemy fire. If a gun is not available, suicide attempts are less likely to be fatal and the person can often receive help.
A gun in the home increases the risk of suicide and homicide. If you know a veteran who is suicidal, immediately remove any guns in the home and contact a health professional. The following are some helpful resources.
• To aid you in developing programs for your local community, contact the Suicide Prevention Coordinator at your local VA facility. You can identify that person using the following link:http://www.veteranscrisisline.net/GetHelp/ResourceLocator.aspx
• Another useful resource for informing the public and mental health professionals about the importance of addressing gun safety as part of suicide prevention is the resources from Means Matter at the Harvard University at the following link: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/means-matter/
• And for further information about the trauma experienced by Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, you will find the following link to a fact sheet from Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Against the War helpful:http://www.ivaw.org/sites/default/files/public/documents/Op%20Rec%20Fact%20Sheet_edited%2012%20Oct%2011.pdf
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