September is Suicide Awareness Month and our military veterans need help.

If you're a military veteran or know a veteran that is having thoughts of suicide, please call one of the phone numbers below or visit their website:

PTSD USA 877-717-7873

Veterans Crisis Line1-800-273-8255, and press 1 or text 838255

National Veterans Foundation888-777-4443

From 2003 - 2015, more military members died from suicide than those serving in Iraq.

If there's one thing that breaks my heart, it's seeing someone who bravely served our country feel tormented by the private hell of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). When I found out a former soldier I once dated had taken his life after years of working against his struggles, I was shattered. I was hopeful for him. I thought that he had gotten better from his experiences in Iraq.

I was terribly wrong. 

We never really know what's actually going on inside of another human being. With so much stigma and limited resources around seeking mental health treatment, it can make those who suffer from PTSD feel even more alone and helpless, which can lead them to suicide. 

For those of us who know veterans dealing with PTSD, you can be an integral part of getting them help. By knowing the risk factors and warning signs, you can feel empowered to getting a veteran the assistance they need before they make a decision to cause irreparable harm for both themselves and their loved ones.

Risk Factors Include:

  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Mental or mood disorders
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Access to lethal means of harm
  • Sense of isolation
  • Lack of mental health or substance abuse help
  • Anxiety, agitation, or mood swings
  • Sleeplessness
  • Neglect in personal care

Warning Signs Include:

  • Vocalizing wanting to die or to commit suicide
  • Giving away personal items
  • Looking for different ways to commit suicide
  • Talking about being a burden on their family or friends
  • Reckless behavior
  • Increased use in alcohol and/or drugs

If you know a veteran displaying these warning signs, contact a trained counselor at one of the above phone numbers for assistance. If in the event of a suicide attempt, contact 911 immediately.

When a young man or woman with a desire to serve our country takes the Oath, they should never have to think about feeling traumatized from their experiences. They especially should never feel lost, alone, or hopeless after they hang up their uniform. 

For those that are facing the challenges of combat-related PTSD, or love someone who is, you are not alone. Never be ashamed to seek help that is ready and willing to assist in your time of need. Having hope can take an immense amount of courage, but the important thing is that hope is there, no matter how small.