• How I Overcame the Stigma of Mental Illness and Saved My Life
    Video by Brandon Goldner, Capital News Service

    Because of the stigma associated with seeking mental health care, many service members are reluctant to seek treatment. Navy Capt. Todd Kruder understands this firsthand. Before receiving treatment, Kruder suffered from severe depression and suicidal thoughts. In this video, Kruder discusses how he overcame the stigma of mental illness and his journey toward recovery, which offers hope to those who may be suffering in silence that their lives can improve.

  • Health Surveillance Center Informs Military on Mental Health Trends
    Service members stand in formation during Independence Day ceremony
    U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Sgt. Tammy K. Hineline

    The Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center is the central source for Defense Department health surveillance information. It provides routine and customized analyses and reports to Defense policy makers, military commanders, service surgeons general and public health centers, researchers, and preventive medicine professionals.

    As Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) Director Capt. Richard Stoltz wrote in the July issue of the Medical Surveillance Monthly Report, the flagship publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center (AFHSC), the military health care system has made major strides in providing resources and access to mental health care for service members during the last 12 years of continued engagement in war. The AFHSC is part of that success as the center helps inform Department of Defense (DoD) policymakers and military medical personnel in their fight to prevent and treat illnesses among service members.

  • Chaplains Discuss Roles in Service Member Suicide Prevention
    Fort Hood WTB gatekeepers learning suicide intervention skills with ASIST workshop
    Soldiers look at a suicide-prevention brochure that details suicide warning signs and suicide prevention resources. (U.S. Army photo by Gloria Montgomery)

    Pastoral counseling has long been recognized by service members as a safe harbor for moral questioning. More commonly now, service members seek pastoral care for uncertainties related to psychological health. In this setting, chaplains may counsel individuals having thoughts of ending their lives. For those who want help but resist confiding in their superiors, chaplains provide a confidential and approachable first-step that opens the door to preventative measures in the event the service member is considering suicide.

    The Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) Chaplain Working Group, consisting of military and Department of Veterans Affairs’ chaplains, is a spiritually-focused forum on deployment-related challenges, psychological health and traumatic brain injury. Laying claim to their unique opportunity to help reduce the incidence of military suicides, the group met during September, Suicide Prevention Month, to emphasize broader awareness, collaboration and counseling among their ranks.

  • Signs of Suicide: How to Help
    Battle buddies
    U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Betty Boyce

    You may have noted increased attention to suicide prevention this month on military websites and related platforms. While efforts to address this tragic occurrence are ongoing and robust, Suicide Prevention Month, observed in September, concentrates attention on prevention resources. It also provides an opportunity for us to increase our knowledge and understanding of risk factors associated with suicidal behavior and how to help someone in crisis.

    Suicide is the deliberate taking of one's own life — 30,000 Americans commit the act each year and an additional 500,000 Americans attempt suicide annually, according to the Defense Suicide Prevention Office website. Also, suicide is the third leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24, and the fourth leading cause of death among 25 to 44-year-olds in the United States. On average, 18 veterans die by suicide each day. Yet, most of us don’t realize that if we knew what to look for, we might help prevent a suicide from happening. For example, friends or loved ones who may be considering suicide show symptoms of depression or anxiety, or may struggle with self-esteem issues.

  • Navy Medicine Chaplain Offers Compassion for Suicide Prevention
    None left behind
    U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lisa Tourtelot

    This blog post is from Navy Medicine Live, written by Capt. Roosevelt Brown, a chaplain with the U.S. Navy.

    I remember my first experience interacting with someone who was suicidal. Even though I was with my pastor, it was a scary occurrence.

    I was 23 years old and learning to be a chaplain. He had been called by this young man who said that he had taken some pills. We immediately left his office and went to his house. On the way, he explained the situation to me. I was wondering how we are going to handle this situation and what I should say. My heart was racing as I prepared for this moment.

    We rang the doorbell and his parents answered. As my pastor told them why we were there, they said that he was upstairs and they don’t think he’s suicidal.

  • Reaching Vets in the Golden Hour of Mental Health Injuries
    Army Year in Photos, August 2010
    U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Nathanael Callon

    Below is a blog post from the Department of Veterans Affairs blog, “VAntage Point.”

    Veterans are naturally drawn to communities. We’re closer than brothers and sisters in the military, and we’re more than a family in combat. But once we leave a cohesive unit, joining a community is voluntary. Organizations like Team Rubicon and Team Red, White and Blue have capitalized on the military ethos of community and cohesiveness to support the veteran population.

    Yet, even with support networks in place, some vets in crisis unfortunately take their lives. In war, many lives are saved in the golden hour — the small window of time someone can survive serious wounds if they get immediate medical attention. But, what about a golden hour for veterans who need mental health attention?