Wednesday, July 3, 2013

When PTSD leads to Suicidal Signs

Anyone who has looked into symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder knows that dangers of PTSD include anger, impulsivity, depression, and may also include suicidal ideations or cries for help.  Unfortunatly, the VA system often can't do enough for many vets.  Family members and friends have to take a more proactive stance of awareness and support for the veterans that the love. 

I urge you to be there for veterans. Advocate for them, be with them, call 911 or other crisis lines if needed, point them in the right directions, and do whatever possible to make them feel accepted, needed, hopeful, and safe.
The American Veterans With Brain Injuries group posted this info on FB:  
It should also be understood that the VA crisis line is for ALL Veterans who may be in crisis. Very often events can bring difficulties to the surface that have been hidden or "stuffed" for years, sometimes decades! If you know a veteran showing the following warning signs or symptoms, reach out and DO SOMETHING! 1-800-273-8255 (Press 1), or send a text message to 838255 to receive confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
These signs may mean someone is at risk for suicide. Risk is greater if a behavior is new or has increased and if it seems related to a painful event, loss or change.

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself.
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a gun.
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
  • Talking about being a burden to others.
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
  • Sleeping too little or too much.
  • Withdrawn or feeling isolated.
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
  • Displaying extreme mood swings.

Additional Warning Signs of Suicide Include:
  • Preoccupation with death.
  • Suddenly happier, calmer.
  • Loss of interest in things one cares about.
  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye.
  • Making arrangements; setting one's affairs in order.
  • Giving things away, such as prized possessions.
There have been occasions when John wanted to throw away all his Army related gear.  He put his photos, medals, awards, and anything related into a box in the trash and threw out all his Army fatigues and accessories.   He cleaned out his closet, stacking all his clothes in a pile towering about five feet tall.  He told me to get rid of them that he didn't need them any longer.  He's went through times when he hid his Facebook account, posted that there were free Army items in the driveway, busted the glass out of the gun cabinet, loaded bags into the truck, and then hugged our children and told them good-bye. All this a gut wrenching experience for sure. 

How did we respond to these horrific times?  We did the best we could.  I called 9-11, called for someone to come get the kids, and I hid the truck keys. I knew if he left he would never return alive.  In December 2011, John wanted to go to the VA and kill them or at least make them suffer so they would understand what he was experiencing.  John didn't want to personally end his own life, but he wanted to be such a threat that someone else would have to kill him. 

Law enforcement came, cleared the house that was turned upside down and then found John about 8 blocks away.  Unfortunately, because John had worked as a deputy sheriff for a couple years before his health became so bad they didn't take action on his claims to kill everyone at the VA.  They recorded that they didn't hear him make any threats.  A deputy friend took him out for the afternoon and brought him back after all the guns were out of the house.  My parents came and stayed for a few days and afterwards John didn't recall too many details about the events that happened while he was in this rage.

Here is how I ended my letter to the VA Comensation board this week:

John is plagued constantly by the daily horrors he suffers from his service connected conditions.  Just last night he was screaming in his sleep, frightened by the visions and nightmares or demons trying to kill him.  We had to reorient him, leave the lights on, and he wanted to "never go back to sleep." While I am asking him now how to convey this to you, he states, "It's real fucking bad. I'm miserable." Between his confusion, disorientation, and severe anger and impulsivity, we had to buy a gun safe last January to lock his collection away from him after he tried to load all his guns to go "kill everyone at the VA" because he wasn't getting the help he needs.  It is awful that our children have to witness him like this.  I don't want to endure another day that he hugs and kisses them goodbye saying he will never come back home, watch the sheriff office suit up in body armor and storm our house searching it between the things he turned upside down as he fled the back yard.  He should feel that the VA has more of his best interest at heart and demonstrate that through better access to medical and mental health care, and the 100% compensation that he deserves so he doesn't have to stress about where money for bills or food is going to come from.  When he feels he is "worth more" dead so we won't have to be in a financial bind, it is already way too late.

Please be assured that at the time I am writing this blog, John is safe and is neither suicidal nor homicidal but I wanted to share these signs, symptoms, and stories with you in an effort to know that if you are plagued by PTSD and experience these symptoms that you are not alone in your struggles.

No comments:

Post a Comment