Suicide Prevention Blog Hop
I wanted to do this for many reasons. One of which I've lost friends to suicide, three people alone this year and one of which I'll be talking about shortly. The other reason is I've fought a major depressive disorder and a chronic pain syndrome most my life. I would be lying if I said suicide hadn't crossed my mind, especially in recent years with medical school loans crushing me and the devestating injury that ended my medical career (the whole reason those loans are so out of control).
I'm not the one to offer advice on how to deal with this sort of depression. Finding an outlet, in my case, writing, helped me, especially when it turned out that I'm allergic to most anti-depressants and the insurance doesn't really allow for therapy. I turned to friends. I thought about what I went through and what the families went through after a suicide.
But what I wanted to talk about more was the rise in suicide of veterans. A bizarre hiccup in fortunes prevented me from joining the military as I wanted to but veteran care has been important to me for twenty years. I did my residency in VA hospitals, including one of the largest VA mental hospitals in the country. I'm part of the Veterans commissions at the campus I know teach at. The number of suicides is spiraling to frightening levels. It saddens me and I wish there were more I could do to help. In theory I'll be trained this year, in conjunction with the VA hospital to intervene more as my campus is Vet-friendly.
That brings me to my friend, Zog. Zog was a Viet Nam vet and he suffered from PTSD issues as well as chronic pain syndromes. I understood both well as they are issues I share. At the beginning of my career in teaching after being retrained after my hand injury, no school wanted to take a chance on me. That did little good for my own depression. I found one school in Rhinelander WI that needed help for a single semester. The pay was ridiculously, unlivable even, low. Zog rented me a home for free. I used my 500$/month (yes that is literally what an adjunct makes per class) to pay utilities. While there, since I was working, the federal government sent the police to track me down because my student loans were going unpaid. (they wanted nearly 2,500 a month). They found me in Wal-Mart. It was rough then and Zog helped me find a psychiatrist, another friend of his. She wanted to put me in a locked ward because she was afraid I would kill myself.
She wasn't really wrong. I refused and Zog looked in on me every day, took me to alternative medical centers and helped me. I moved on not in a semester but in a year because they liked me so much. When I moved I was hundreds of miles away from Zog. I knew he was having some trouble. I always told him he would be better off in the SW with his health issues. What none of his friends knew was he wasn't having 'some trouble.' His chronic pain syndrome, coupled with the residual effects of Viet Nam had taken their toll. He was house bound. He never said a word. I can only imagine he didn't want to be a burden. He took his life earlier this year. My friends and I are still dealing with the affects of not knowing the depths of his troubles, of dealing with the sadness and anger of working through the aftermath.
There was help out there. I wish Zog had done what I did and reached for that help. That is what I really want to say, there is help out there. For my veterans, I've gone and looked for that help.
On the top of my list is the Wounded Warrior Project (click on their programs. There are several for dealing with the mind for both the veteran and his/her family).
Operation Wolfhound service dogs for veterans with PTSD
Both of these are so important to me, they're in one of my novels.
Canine Angels Free service dogs for Vets
And some suicide prevent resources for everyone
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
head here for the rest of the blog hop