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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Concerns about Suicide

I have been really concerned about the rising rate of suicide among military members and veterans of our latest wars.
I kept thinking what could cause it?
Multiple tours, yes. People get PTSD from high levels of war zone stress. In the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study, among Vietnam vets with high levels of war zone stress, 66% of them had PTSD at some time after the war and 33% still did at the time of the study in the 80's! It is a statistic most professionals avoid, but I think it is VERY IMPORTANT. It means getting PTSD when you have been through hell is NORMAL.
So now we have professionals who say they are going to prevent it. No one was saying that during or after Vietnam. They were pretending it didn't exist. So here is another difference: resilience training.
When you look at PTSD from an organic/developmental sort of perspective, how can you prevent the survival skills built into your brain from kicking in. You can't. The part of our brain designed to look for danger and instantaneously prepare you to move without thinking doesn't speak English and can't tell time. The part of our brain that rapidly adapts to whatever is going on (and leads to emotional numbing which can be hard to look back on and gets perpetuated into avoidance) also.  Re-experiencing is the reptile brain's way of trying to keep you safe by warning you constantly of danger
So how do you prevent these parts of the "reptile brain" from acting naturally. I don't know. I wanted to find just what resilience training consists of, but have not yet. I did see that it was designed to prevent PTSD, so knowing human nature, I know that people who took the training and still get PTSD are going to feel like they failed, not like the training failed...
So if you are feeling suicidal because of your reactions, please get help. Read stuff at Patience Press about how normal appropriate and effective PTSD symptoms are in war, and about how to begin to recover.
And if anyone tells you you are weak, remember PTSD is proof of survival.
And NORMAL. Normal people are affected by what they live through.
The people who are telling you they weren't affected have either been through less than you have (even if they were in the same outfit) or are handling it through workaholism, alcoholism, sex addiction, etc. Denial is another symptom and it is not just a river in Egypt. Don't believe. them. Don't compare your insides to someone else's outsides.
I am glad you survived and whatever you have been through, you deserve to recover.
Here are a few links to articles criticizing the resilience training program.
Health Experts Question
The Army's Flawed Resilience Training Study
 The Dark Side of Comprehensive Soldier Fitness