The veteran suicide rate is more than double that of the civilian rate.
Defeat Suicide Foundation founder, Todd Woodfill, is a veteran who served in the middle east and Asia. He comes from a long line of military veterans and has a passion for serving those who have served us. His ability to connect and reach the hearts of our active duty soldiers and veterans makes him extremely effective.
We are losing more than 8,030 veterans to suicide each year. That's more suicides annually than the total American deaths during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) since the wars began.
Veterans account for 20% of all adult suicide deaths in the U.S. even though only 8% of the populations has served in the military.
One hurdle for advocates is veterans' frequent reluctance to ask for help. A veteran is trained to be tough. They don't want to put the burden on someone else and have been taught to internalize their pain and deal with it alone and quietly. Service members and veterans face many stressors that can increase their risk for suicide. Risk factors include both combat and peacetime challenges, like traumatic experiences and frequent moves. Left unaddressed, stressors can become overwhelming. Service members and veterans may be more vulnerable to substance use disorders and mood disorders because of high levels of stress. Both disorders are associated with military suicide. Other stressors that increase suicide risk include relationship problems, work problems and disciplinary or legal issues.
There isn’t a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution. What works for one person may not be right for another. Some service members and veterans find that alternative therapies — such as yoga and meditation — help them cope with issues like PTSD, while others may respond better to talk therapy. Some military spouses benefit from participating in retreats for warriors and their families, while others prefer individual or couples sessions with a mental health counselor.
The first step though is getting the service member to speak up and ask for help. Defeat Suicide Foundation speaks at veterans organizations, hospitals, and more with a message of understanding and hope. As veterans we understand the challenges and are able to clearly speak and offer hope. Teaming with our resource and partner organizations, we are able to offer services that can connect with every veteran.