“Not all wounds are visible,” is the motto of many of the groups that serve veterans and help them overcome the impact of PTSD (IAVA, 2013). Often in the past veterans that complained about having problem’s adjusting to being back home or experiencing psychological problem were regarded as complainers or weak. The importance of the PTSD as a disorder was not fully understood and its impact on veterans and their lives was not clearly understood. One of the most dramatic occurrences related to PTSD is suicide. The question of whether suicide is connected to PTSD has been studied because of dramatic increase in suicide among Iraq Veterans. It has been reported by the Army that suicides are at “highest level since record-keeping began three decades ago” (Goode, 2009). There are more suicides “129 from January to mid-July” than service men who died in combat. Most studies do show a connection between combat induced PTSD and suicide.
In a study on suicide ideation it showed that PTSD was a risk factor for suicidal ideation in Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans (Jakupcak, 2007). Other factors were also examined in the study, such as “comorbid mental disorders in veterans with PTSD”. However, the study did conclude that “Veterans who screened positive for PTSD were more than 4 times as likely to endorse suicidal ideation relative to non-PTSD veterans” (Jakupcak, 2007).
The National PTSD Center shows the summary and facts of PTSD and Suicide. The report shows that some studies show a connection between of PTSD and suicide risk. It is also determined that “PTSD alone out of six anxiety diagnoses was significantly associated with suicidal ideation or attempts” (Hudenko, 2013). Most of the finding summarized by the PTDS site showed positive between PTSD and suicide. It further showed that those veteran’s that had PTDS and experienced a high level of “intrusive memories”, and “anger and impulsivity” were more likely to be at risk of suicide. (Hudenko, 2013). This connection between PTSD and an increase in suicide has encouraged the VA to educate and reach out to PTSD sufferers.
Most people do not understands what PTSD is and how it impacts the brain and behavior and influences suicide. Many people that have PTSD from serving in Iraq don’t know the symptoms nor understand them. Also the initially the military didn’t want to admit to the severity of the disorder and largely ignored it until the increase in suicides. Once the increase in suicide was connected to PTSD there was an increase if reaching out to those veterans that might be impacted by combat stress.
One of the best places currently to find research and information on PTSD is the VA’s site for PTSD. In their article “What is PTSD” they give an overview of PTSD, how it develops, the causes, and symptoms. They report the causes of PTSD are as follows: combat exposure, child sexual or physical abuse, terrorist attack, sexual or physical assault, serious accidents, like a car wreck (VA, 2013). The trouble has been that the symptoms are not always very clear and range from depression, anxiety, substance abuse issues, physical symptoms including chronic pain and also problems in interpersonal relationships and jobs. If undiagnosed and untreated the wounds that are not visible can lead to more problems including domestic violence, suicide, and substance abuse all of which are higher in vets as compared to the civilian population.
The issues are that many vets are taught to be strong and have a difficult time accepting they have something wrong with them. This is what makes the educational and awareness process important. One of the main focus of the article is to educate people about the disorder and to help people and veteran’s especially to understand what is happening with their emotions and reactions. Through education and treatment vets suffering from PTSD can seek begin the process of seeking treatment and healing.
The symptoms are noteworthy as many veterans don’t view them as symptoms, but as part of how they felt in combat. In the article about symptomatology the researcher’s compare emotions between veterans’ that suffered from PTDS and those that didn’t. It was shown that those that screened positive for PTSD had more anger, hostility, and aggression. The ability to recognize those emotions as part of the disorder allows those that screen for PTSD to do a better job and for those that experience them to seek out professional treatment. It goes back to the thesis that understanding PTDS helps in diagnosis and treatment.
Although considerable debate exists about the reason for the heightened risk of suicide in trauma survivors, it is clear from these studies there is a connection. One reason education awareness and treatment has become so important is the high level of suicide in Iraq Veterans. As stated earlier the level of suicide in Iraq Veterans has been fairly well connected to PTSD.
- Goode, Erica. (2009) “After Combat, Victims of an Inner War” New York Times. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/
- Hudenko William, PhD, Homaifar Beeta, PhD, and Wortzel, Hal MD (2013) “The Relationship Between PTSD and Suicide.” US Department of Veteran’s Affairs. National Center for PTSD: http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/pages/ptsd-suicide.asp
- Jakupcak, Matthew, Conybeare, Daniel, Phelps, Lori, Hunt,Stephen, Holmes,Hollie A. Felker,Bradford, Klevens, Michele, McFall, Miles E. (2007) Anger, hostility, and aggression among Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans reporting PTSD and subthreshold PTSD Journal of Traumatic Stress.
- Jakupcak, Matthew, Cook,Jessica, Imel, Zak, Fontana, Alan, Rosenheck, Robert, McFall, Miles. (2009). “Posttraumatic stress disorder as a risk factor for suicidal ideation in Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans” International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies.
- “What is PTSD?”(2013) US Department of Veteran’s Affairs. National Center for PTSD: retrieved from /: http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/pages/what-is-ptsd.asp