Get Involved. Be rude. Intrude.
We are once again reminded of the menacing presence of suicidal ideation in the lives of America’s service members. This scourge on our society continues to claim more soldiers’ lives than combat casualties, accidents and illness combined. The pall of this calamity has invaded our first responders’ ranks, as well, along with nearly every segment of our society with its boney fingers touching every one of us through our families, friendships and work relationships.
The dark specter of suicide is a LIAR, a COWARD and a THIEF. It skulks in the dark shadows of our conscience, watching and waiting for that moment when its victim is most lonely, sad, cornered, hopeless, broken, addicted, sick, weak and tired. It crawls forward from its lair to whisper in victims’ troubled ears in a voice a smooth as silk, “rest now, dear brothers and sisters. Give me your sorrows. I will bring you peace. Let your suffering end. Let go of your struggle and go to sleep.”
What began as a pass thought in a troubled heart, becomes recurring theme, then a preoccupation that transforms the unthinkable into an option, and finally to a plan to carry out a single desperate act. People die by suicide because they just want the pain to end. It’s the permanent solution to the (always) temporary problem.
Dr. Thomas Joyner of the University of Florida tells us that the three most powerful conditions present in the development of suicidal ideation are (1) social isolation, (2) the false belief that one burdensome or no value to loved ones (and therefore better off dead) and (3) the reduction of one’s natural instinct toward self-preservation and safety. So then, what is the solution?
Engagement. Action. When you suspect a person is bringing these three forces into alignment and the darkness is beginning to close in, make it your responsibility to be rude. Step in and ask the uncomfortable questions. Then ask them again. Follow up and engage. Treatment for the behavioral health ailments that greatly contribute to suicidal ideation are more advanced than ever before. Save a life, save your own life and never, never, never stop fighting for your life. Things will get better as long as you never quit. And if you are too tired to continue to march, call this number (https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/) and 1-800 273 8255 with the assurance that this world is much, much richer for the light of your life here…we need you and love you.