• Suicide: Not Just a Military Issue
    Photo courtesy of Sarah Heynen

    “He was the last person to take his own life.”

    These 10 simple words were repeated by several speakers on the TAPS Suicide Survivor Panel Session at the annual DoD/VA Suicide Prevention Conference, and they instantly brought me back to my own experience.

    I can remember it like it was yesterday. The day our eyes locked was like one of those movie scenes where the world around stops and everyone else goes into some blurred montage — except it was real life, my life. I fell in love. I found my best friend. We lived on different continents but with frequent communication formed a bond and closeness that I had never experienced.

    The next time my world stopped felt like a nightmare. I can also remember it like it was yesterday. The day I felt a pain so deep it didn’t seem possible and the animalistic screams of terror that I let out in pure reaction to the news.

  • DCoE Monthly Wrap-Up: Brain Injury Awareness

    When you watch and read about people affected by traumatic brain injury (TBI), you can understand how the experience can be life changing—not only for the injured person, but also for those who care about them. Throughout March, we increased our efforts to make you aware of signs and symptoms of TBI and resources available for service members, families and providers. Here is a round-up of last month’s news highlights and resources:

    • How to Prevent TBI
      Do you always wear a helmet? A seat belt when you drive? In many cases, TBI can be prevented by taking simple precautions. Share these tips to help you and your loved ones reduce the chance of sustaining a brain injury.
  • Frontline Psych with Doc Bender: 24/7 Help at Veterans Crisis Line
    Doc Bender on top of the Ziggurat of Ur in Southern Iraq, in February 2009.

    Dr. James Bender is a former Army psychologist who deployed to Iraq as the brigade psychologist for the 1st Cavalry Division 4th Brigade Combat Team out of Fort Hood, Texas. During his deployment, he traveled through Southern Iraq, from Basra to Baghdad. He writes a monthly post for the DCoE Blog on psychological health concerns related to deployment and being in the military.

    Hello. A friend at work recently asked me about patient confidentiality and suicide prevention hotlines. After our discussion, and speaking with a few others, my informal poll told me chances are there may be misinformation floating around. So I reached out to Patricia Lucas, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) suicide prevention coordinator for the Washington, D.C. area, and decided to spotlight a free, confidential resource for service members and veterans in emotional crisis this month—Veterans Crisis Line.

    Partnered with VA and National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, the crisis line is available 24/7 by calling 800-273-TALK (8255) and pressing “1,” online chat or text message to 838255. In five years, the crisis line has fielded more than 500,000 calls and made more than 18,000 “rescues” where emergency services went to the caller’s location.

  • The Time to Prevent Suicide is Always Now
    I will reach out for help...

    We hear about suicide prevention awareness every September, the month designated to bring national attention to this issue. At Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE), and many agencies, private organizations and nonprofit groups, every day is an opportunity to reach at-risk individuals through advocacy, crisis intervention and targeted resources.

    I recently asked Dr. Colanda Cato, DCoE clinical psychologist, about her presentation to CrisisLink, a Washington, D.C.-based crisis and suicide prevention organization that provides a national 24/7 crisis hotline. At their “2011 Fall Forum: United in Hope,” Cato talked to CrisisLink counselors, staff and board members about military suicides, connecting with the people who answer those calls to the hotline from service members and veterans.

  • DCoE October Webinar: Generational PTSD and Post-traumatic Growth
    U.S. Army photo

    Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) will host its next webinar, “Generational Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Post-traumatic Growth,” Oct. 27 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. (EDT).

    With each conflict of the 20th century, health care providers have learned more about the effects of war trauma exposure. A historical overview of PTSD has contributed to our present-day understanding and knowledge of the diagnosis...

  • DCoE Monthly Wrap Up: Spotlight on Suicide Prevention and Awareness
    A snapshot of tweets from DCoE’s first twitterview Tuesday.

    Managing stress. Seeking help. Understanding risk factors. Suicide prevention resources.

    These topics highlight information DCoE published this month for suicide prevention and awareness. Because of that theme and its importance, we’re recapping our social media, news room articles and blog posts to make you aware of resources available.

    If you’re one of our regular followers, you know how active we’ve been to educate the military community about risk factors that can lead to suicide. This includes highlighting specific resources available to military leaders and service members as well as messages from subject matter experts. We noted in our “Success before Stress” blog series the importance of managing life’s stresses before they overwhelm you.