There is a human tragedy occurring around us every day. People who stepped up to protect our country or went to work each day not knowing the dangers they would face are opting to end their lives rather than face their demons. Far too many of our veterans and first responders die each year, not because of something that happened on the job, but something the job may have done to them. Society does not pay much attention to this senseless waste of life, which is a sad tragedy of its own.
We lose 22 veterans every day to suicide. That number has been increasing yearly for the two decades that the data has been tracked. It seems so shallow to call lost veterans data points, but since the military and government are doing little to address the crisis, data points are what we have.
We lose over 250 first responders per year to suicide. Not nearly as many as the veterans we lose but at a rate twenty percent higher than the general population. The numbers don’t matter as much as the issue itself. Any soul lost to suicide is a failure of society. We need to do better.
After mass shootings, people always come forward to tell of the warning signs they saw. Unfortunately, those stories do nothing after the fact. We must speak up when we see situations that could manifest into a far more severe predicament.
Many Veterans don’t show signs of an urge to harm themselves before doing so. But some may show signs of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, or hopelessness, like:
- Seeming sad, depressed, anxious, or agitated most of the time
- Sleeping either all the time or not much at all
- Not caring about what they look like or what happens to them
- Pulling away from friends, family, and society
- Losing interest in hobbies, work, school, or other things they used to care about
- Expressing feelings of excessive guilt or shame, failure, lack of purpose in life, or being trapped
By the statistics, the VA and the Policeman’s Union are not doing enough to identify, counsel, and save these heroes who have decided they have nothing to live for.
These men and women stepped up for us. Whether to protect freedom in a foreign land or to keep us safe at home, these heroes ran towards danger for others. Now is our time to run to them, keep them safe, and ensure they get the counseling needed to avoid a tragic end to their lives. Awareness of the problem is the first step. Taking action is the next.