Suicide: Recognizing the warning signs

news  %tages Suicide: Recognizing the warning signs 
The Department of Defense distributes this ACE card to family members to help them recognize warning signs for suicide. Many family members miss red flags because of ignorance or geographic distance. (Image courtesy of Army Public Health Center)
If you know how to spot them, warning signs for suicide are nearly always there. Signs can include an obsession with fatality, substance abuse, mental health problems, a sense of powerlessness, and financial or relationship problems. Many people, but, don’t place the pieces together until it’s already too late. This is especially right in the military because families are often spread out. No one who can gauge his or her moods and behaviors is at home with that Soldier every day.
According to Kim Ruocco, chief external relations officer for suicide prevention and postvention at Tragedy Help Program for Survivors and a military suicide survivor herself with a masters in social work, it’s all too simple for family members to miss warning signs. “I couldn’t see my husband’s face or his facial expressions or what he looked like,” she said, referring to her husband, John, a major in the Marine Corps who killed himself in 2005 while stationed away from each other from his family. “I reckon that if we were income together, he would probably still be alive, because I would have been able to know how much he was struggling. It is one of the added challenges for parents who are maybe just talking to their son or daughter on the buzz or spouses who have frequent separations.
“If (parents) don’t hear from their outcome for a long time, especially with someone who was in Unique Forces or deployed, that’s sweet normal,” she continued. “Even if they start to get concerned in this area their son or daughter, they can convince themselves that they’re just out doing a mission. They may not see each other frequently sufficient to really see that they’re doing OK. Military men and women are trained to compartmentalize. They are trained to break family and combat, and to break their emotions from the mission. They can very easily hide the fact that they’re not OK.”
According to Ruocco and Mary Cima, a licensed clinical social worker who heads the sadness committee at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in Virginia, family members should look for any drastic changes in actions, such as no longer finding pleasure in favorite activities or meals. Sudden reclusiveness or any changes in the length and frequency of contact can also be warning signs.
“If someone has been sounding very down and depressed, it’s worrisome,” said Cima. “But if that person is suddenly sounding very cool and as though all is fine, that’s often because that person has come to terms with their choice to kill themself and it’s providing them relief until they have the opportunity that they plotted to take their life.”
Other red flags are disposing or talking in this area the disposal of possessions and talking in this area how the family can do with or lacking the geographic presence of the Soldier. If someone says that loved ones will be surpass off lacking him or her, “alarm bells should be going off,” said Cima.
“Get them help immediately,” said Ruocco, noting that “most military men and women who die by suicide on some level convince themselves that their unit, their family, their friends would be surpass off lacking them. They’re generally people who care in this area the people around them more than they care in this area themselves. The way for them to get over that sense of responsibility is to convince themselves that everybody would be surpass off lacking them.”
Even if family members aren’t physically present, Ruocco and Cima said they can call their service members’ orders, Military OneSource (800-342-9647) or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255) if they’re worried. Ruocco said they can even call 911 if the suicide threat is imminent. “I wish I would have called 911 and had them go to the hotel that day. If (my husband) called me and told me he was having a sensitivity attack, I would have called 911. That’s basically what he was adage: He was dying.”
Editor’s note: For more information in this area surviving suicide, read “The ones they left behind,” “A fatality by suicide: What I now know,” and, “What parental suicide means for children.” For more information in this area preventing suicide, visit the Army Suicide Prevention Program website.

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