When it comes to military PTSD and suicide, one thing is clear. What we are doing is not working.
Two data points from June 2021 immediately jump to mind and I've linked the studies to our Facebook page and in this post. According a 17 June 2021 survey, 35% of military connected individuals believe that PTSD is not treatable. This is a disappointing but not surprising outcome.
Also under the heading of disappointing but not surprising, the cost of war project at Brown University released a study on June 21st 2021 that more than four times the number of soldiers killed in combat have taken their own life through suicide since 9/11.
We've been talking about veteran suicide and PTSD for over a decade. PTSD awareness now has its own month in June, we have Master Resiliency Training, and every year I see people doing 22 push-ups on their Facebook pages military suicide awareness. Every year. For the last 10 years.
Albert Einstein said "No problem can be solved by the same consciousness that caused it." A simpler version of this, which I use every day, is "insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
So what can we do differently? Here are my humble suggestions:
- Identify the problem. Discuss the no-shit facts about PTSD in a language that Service Members — and anyone else — can understand. PTSD is an incredibly logical disorder, and we don't need to have a PhD to understand it.
- Discuss the courses of action. PTSD is completely treatable. As of this recording, there are three evidence-based treatments that are approved by the VA: prolonged exposure, cognitive processing therapy, and EMDR. They work for most people most of the time, whether you have been dealing with symptoms for 5 years or 5 decades.
- Take action. Understand your symptoms, advocate for yourself, and ask for evidence-based treatments by name.
I encourage you to learn more about your PTSD symptoms and available treatments. We've created a Free Workbook to help you identify your symptoms so that you can make an informed decision to reclaim your life from PTSD and Moral Injury.