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  • Confronting an Alarming Trend: How Can We Combat Military Suicides?

    The troubling fact that military suicide rates are at an all-time high is a disheartening reminder of the mental health issues many members of the armed forces face. Research estimates that approximately 30,177 active duty personnel and veterans who served in the military after 9/11 have died by suicide since record-keeping began after 9/11, which is four times higher than deaths that occurred during military operations (1). This alarming statistic shows the far-reaching effects of war on soldiers’ mental health and highlights that more needs to be done to support them.

    To combat the rising rate of military suicides, we must first address the root causes of this issue. It is well known that service members often experience psychological trauma due to their experiences in war-torn regions or during active duty deployment. Exposure to such events can lead to long-term mental health issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In addition to PTSD, depression, and anxiety are also common mental health issues that can be exacerbated by military service. Active-duty service members may experience stressors contributing to the risk of suicide, such as long-term deployment, marital issues, financial stress, and physical injuries. Veterans may find the transition to civilian life challenging due to their extended period of service in the military.

    To effectively address military suicides, we must focus on providing comprehensive mental health services to both active-duty service members and veterans. These services must be tailored to meet the specific needs of each individual, including access to specialized counseling and therapy. Additionally, providing effective strategies for managing stressors can help service members cope with the psychological demands of military service and reduce their risk of suicide. For example, mindfulness-based stress reduction programs have shown promise in helping service members manage symptoms of PTSD, depression, and anxiety. Other proven techniques include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is another evidence-based intervention to help service members process traumatic experiences.

    Emphasize must be placed on the importance of peer support in addressing military suicides. Service members may be more likely to seek help if their peers and family support them. This type of support can involve providing emotional, physical, and practical assistance to those in need. By creating a supportive environment for service members and veterans, we can help reduce the stigma of seeking mental health treatment and encourage them to seek help when needed.

    Military suicide is a complex issue that requires a multifaceted approach to combat it effectively. By providing comprehensive mental health services, implementing evidence-based therapies, and emphasizing the importance of peer support, we can help to reduce the rate of military suicide and create a more supportive environment for service members and veterans.

    The team at New Heights Counseling, located in Fort Walton Beach, FL., is dedicated to providing comprehensive counseling and therapy services to military personnel and veterans. Our team specializes in treating PTSD, depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues related to military service. Most of our counselors have military affiliations and understand the unique needs of those who serve. Several therapists are EMDR trained and certified, which is a highly effective therapy for individuals with PTSD.  We are committed to providing an environment of support and understanding where individuals can process their experiences and learn effective coping strategies. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues related to military service, please [Contact Us]

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    About the Author:

    Colleen Wenner New Heights Founder Clinical DirectorColleen Wenner is the founder and clinical director of New Heights Counseling, where she provides counseling services for individuals struggling with grief and other mental health issues. She is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. Colleen is a certified supervisor in Florida and an EMDR trauma-certified practitioner and consultant in training. Colleen is committed to providing excellent client care and services the Fort Walton Beach, CrestviewNicevilleDestin, and surrounding communities.

    Colleen has consistently advocated for mental health wellness and has dedicated her entire life to promoting awareness among the public. She is featured on various podcasts such as Practice of the Practice (The #1 Podcast for counselors in private practice), Shrink Think Podcast, and The Salty Christan Podcastto name a few. She has also contributed to several Yahoo Best LifeUnfinished ManUpJourney, and WebMD articles. Colleen uses compassionate and authentic communication to help clients understand themselves better and feel more confident about their ability to improve their lives.