News

  • Military Comic Author Talks About New Book, How it Helps Vets
    Terminal Lance

    Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury. The “Terminal Lance” series does contain foul language; adult discretion advised.

    Former Marine Maximilian Uriarte began self-publishing his irreverent and often not-safe-for-work online comic strip on life in the Marine Corps infantry, “Terminal Lance,” in 2010. Uriarte’s sharp wit strikes a chord with service members of every branch by highlighting the trials, idiosyncrasies and absurdities of military life.

  • DCoE Team Member Opens Up About Loss of Loved One to Suicide: ‘This Year, I’m Not Crying.’
    Photo courtesy of Sarah Heynen

    It’s been eight years since he left this Earth. It was a tragedy that has shaped my life. This year, I’m not crying. The heart is a miraculous organ that heals over time; heals with the help of a supportive community, mental health treatment of my own and time.

    On September 22, 2006, my world went dark. The smile, laugh and energy that could light up a room was no more. A man I thought of as my best friend and was madly in love with took his own life. You see, his presence was beautifully infectious. He was much more than a combat veteran, he was incredibly smart, wickedly funny, an adventurer, a family member and the absolute best friend one could ever hope to know … and well I wasn’t the only woman madly in love with him. He was also a ladies man. I can say that all now with a smile and a laugh.

    How did I cope? It wasn’t always pretty. In the darkest times, I used alcohol to dull the pain, which was neither effective nor healthy. I also had moments where I daydreamed about dying to end the pain. I felt anger and self-pity. In time, I found healthier ways to cope. I joined a grief group. I formed a relationship with his mom where we wrote letters and shared memories and feelings. I had amazing friends and family who loved and supported me when I felt I couldn’t function. I found a job where I could give back and offer resources to someone who wouldn’t have had them. I shared my experience with others. I sought therapy and worked through my grief, my anger. I visited his mom. I visited his ashes. I healed. Slowly, sometimes painfully, but I healed.

  • Signs of Suicide: How to Help
    Searching for Answers: A panel review of Army Reserve suicides
    Two of the leading causes of U.S. Army Reserve suicides in 2013 were due to relationship issues and problems with finances. (U.S. Army photo by Timothy L. Hale)

    Suicide Prevention Month, observed in September, 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. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent statistics, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and accounts for nearly 40,000 deaths each year.

    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 thinking about suicide may show symptoms of depression or anxiety, struggle with self-esteem issues or substance abuse, or withdraw from family and friends.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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