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The New Treatment for Veteran Suicide

By Ellen KommelPublished 6 years ago 3 min read

In a society obsessed with what's trending and viewership, it's easy to lose sight of what's important. Every day there’s a new app or a new way to communicate with each other and it seems like our world is becoming exceedingly obsessed with social media. But where those distractions have their faults, they can sometimes be turned into a tool for good.

Alongside the current headlines, topics like “veteran suicide,” for example, are bringing about necessary awareness for an epidemic plaguing the men and women fighting for our country. It has been a problem for as long as wars have been fought, but with the #22pushup challenge and campaigns like Mission 22 popping up around social media, veteran suicide is becoming a conversation that more and more people are having.

War, it seems, is an inevitability, and until technology reduces the need for human soldiers to be put in harm's way, that's exactly where they’ll willingly go. But therein lies the problem—humans, being capable of rational thought, cannot withstand the horrors of war without it leaving some scars. An estimated 22 soldiers from the United States Military kill themselves every day, which, according to Reuters, has increased 30% since 2001. It stands to reason that the dramatic influx of veteran suicide has some correlation to the dramatic decrease in public interest in the war in the Middle East. There seems to be some controversy, though, on the exact number of veterans that are actually committing suicide each year. While the semantics and precise statistics are being argued amongst media sources and psychological studies, the fact still remains that any number of veteran suicides is too many.

Putting the numbers aside, there are studies that prove that getting anyone with suicidal thoughts a safe outlet for communicating their feelings is effective in diminishing the urge to follow through. And now, with the topic recently trending, help is becoming more readily available for those in need. Organizations like Objective Zero bridge the gap between veterans and trained, caring, civilian and veteran ambassadors looking to show their support. With just the push of a button on the Objective Zero app launching early next year, anyone seeking help will be able to find it. It delivers user-friendly options like voice-call, text, and video calls to put anyone in crisis in touch with people ready to listen at any time of day.

As troops are still engaged and sent to the conflicts in the Middle East, the fatalities seem to be dwindling. According to an article published by Statista, in the entire year of 2016, 17 United States soldiers were killed in the Iraq war. That means veteran suicide is now costing more lives than the war itself. Although most of the soldiers deployed to the region are making it home, they are still fighting a battle that we cannot see. It is our responsibility as the civilians that enjoy freedom and democracy they are fighting for to alleviate some of the burdens of those invisible wars.

Technology is at the forefront of American innovation and although some might find it fanciful, as it evolves, more positive applications for it are surfacing. Thanks to these advances, it looks like a workable treatment for veteran suicide is finally breaching the horizon. Between making it a discussion in everyday conversations and providing accessible help for veterans, there's hope for reaching more individuals that may be in crisis or just need someone to talk to. The more these issues are discussed and acknowledged, the more we're able to find creative, effective ways to combat the problem.

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