PTSD and Suicide

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This is Part 2 of a three-part series on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). You can read Part 1 here.

On this blog we’ve established how to recognize the signs of PTSD. This can befall mothers after a dangerous birth, a newly diagnosed cancer patient, people who’ve been mugged, car crash survivors, victims of prolonged abuse and neglect. The list goes on and on.

Left untreated, PTSD can lead to further mental illness, such as compulsive tendencies, depression and anxiety. It can instill fear into even the mundane aspects of life, lead to self-harm, and fracture relationships.

But one of the greatest risks of PTSD is suicide.

This problem is starting to gain some national attention, specifically with veterans, EMS, police and fire fighters. Lawmakers in West Virginia are pushing for a bill to offer workers’ compensation benefits to first responders who exhibit signs of PTSD. Veterans in Baxter County, Arkansas are establishing grassroots organizations to combat the high rate of veteran suicide. Our own Idaho Division of Veterans Services offers resources to our local veterans who are struggling with mental illness and thoughts of suicide.

So, what can you do? If you suspect a loved one may be battling thoughts of suicide, remember QPR: Question, Persuade, Refer.

  1. Question. If you hear them make an offhanded comment, such as “You’d be better off if I was gone,” ask them directly if they are considering committing suicide.
  2. Persuade. If they say they are considering harming themselves, persuade them to come up with a plan to put off any actions until they can see a professional.
  3. Refer. Refer them to a professional who can help them begin to process and heal.

If you are considering suicide, remember this: there is hope. There is healing. You have people who love you, and want to help you. If you are reading this and fear you may act on a suicidal impulse, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline right now at 1-800-273-8255. They are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

So many people are hurting and need help. If you are concerned for a loved one or for yourself, please contact me. I want to help you find the joy in life again.

Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Mental Health Solutions, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. If you would like to discuss the information in this blog further with her, please call 208-918-0958. She sees adolescents and adults. Information in this blog is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider about decisions regarding your health.

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