Jason arrived home about two months ago from his third deployment to the Middle East.

At first, he seemed his normal happy self, but his wife told me that just a few days later he started waking up at night screaming in fear, unable to sleep.
“Jason gets agitated and angry easily and is often frustrated with our small children who are “just being kids” she says.  “He doesn’t want to do the fun things we used to do together with our friends and seems obsessed with his gun.” She said he has told her several times that he is worthless now and that she and their children would be better off if he had been killed. Naturally, she is very worried about him, so I referred her to the Veterans Crisis Line (www.veteranscrisisline.net- 1- 800-873-8255 #1) to locate a counselor. VA’s responders understand what Veterans of all ages and circumstances have been through, and they are dedicated to providing family members and friends with immediate crisis support for helping their loved one.
While Jason is showing some clear suicidal warning signs, many Veterans might not show any signs of intent to harm themselves before doing so, but some actions can be a sign that a Veteran needs help. Jason is showing some clear warning signs. Veterans, like Jason who are considering suicide often show signs of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and/or hopelessness, such as:
•Appearing sad or depressed most of the time
•Clinical depression: deep sadness, loss of interest, trouble sleeping and eating—that doesn’t go away or continues to get worse
•Feeling anxious, agitated, or unable to sleep
•Neglecting personal welfare, deteriorating physical appearance
•Withdrawing from friends, family, and society, or sleeping all the time
•Losing interest in hobbies, work, school, or other things one used to care about
•Frequent and dramatic mood changes
•Expressing feelings of excessive guilt or shame
•Feelings of failure or decreased performance
•Feeling that life is not worth living, having no sense of purpose in life
•Talk about feeling trapped—like there is no way out of a situation
•Having feelings of desperation, and saying that there’s no solution to their problems
Sometimes their behavior becomes radically different from their normal behavior, or they may appear to be actively considering or preparing for a suicidal act through behaviors such as:
•Performing poorly at work or school
•Acting recklessly or engaging in risky activities—seemingly without thinking
•Showing violent behavior such as punching holes in walls, getting into fights or self-destructive violence; feeling rage or uncontrolled anger or seeking revenge
•Looking as though one has a “death wish,” tempting fate by taking risks that could lead to death, such as driving fast or running red lights
•Giving away prized possessions
•Putting affairs in order, tying up loose ends, and/or making out a will
•Seeking access to firearms, pills, or other means of harming oneself
Did you know that only 1% of us have a family member serving in the military? That means that many of us don’t know, much less understand, the many challenges our Veterans often face.  Friday November 11th is Veterans Day. Instead of thinking of it as a day off from school or work, please consider reaching out to a Veteran (and their family) to thank them for their service.
By reaching out, you can help someone going through a difficult time feel included and supported. Small things- calling them up for a chat, bringing dinner, meeting for coffee, or offering to babysit are a few thoughtful ways to show you care. Our Veterans have dedicated their lives to keep us safe. Reach out! It’s the least we can all do to thank them for their service.

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