PTSD, Suicide, and Isolation

PTSD and Suicide often go together.  Isolation enhances PTSD and damages the soul.  By now, this should be no news flash.

 

The article link provided below speaks to an increasing US Army awareness of the suicide illness in its ranks.  While the Army remains two-minded on PTSD (sometimes it seeks to promote PTSD awareness and healing and other times it seeks to pretend the condition does not exist), it is refreshing to see somebody in the Pentagon actively trying to avoid suicides among the troops.

 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/22/AR2009052203556.html?hpid=moreheadlines

 

In my own day, for an officer to admit to stress or depression damaged your career and promotion prospects.  At one point while serving in a critical nuclear duty position, I acknowledged I had problems with stress.  It was used against me in my next officer evaluation report.  Oddly, they kept me in the position.

 

In the linked article there is mention made of the correlation between isolation and suicide. 

Isolation enhances PTSD and damages the soul.  Part of what heals us and sustains us against PTSD and suicide is our series of proper relationships.  Relationships with God, our Self, our multiple communities, and the Creation.  PTSD damages these relationships and actively seeks to isolate us from all forms of each of these right relationships.

 

The Army general in the article noticed that soldiers working in long periods of isolation appear to be at higher suicide risk.  He is right.

 

The position of the PTSD Spirituality blog is that isolation promotes PTSD and increases risk of self-harm and suicide.  Suicide is a Stalking Horse for the PTSD survivor.  It can feel like the right thing to do in an otherwise absurd and untenable situation.  It can be seductive and society seems to encourage it by criticizing those who are not “strong” or “tough.”  The isolation seeks to prevent us from seeking help and from being noticed that we need help.

 

Whether our PTSD comes from military or civilian trauma, or some combination of the two, seeking out healthy relationships is essential to survival.  As I mentioned in a previous post, we are in this together.  Helping reduce the spiral of isolation and soul damage is important. 

Now that an Army general is dedicating one meeting a month to suicide prevention, well, at least we have a start.  It is an immense improvement over a cowboy culture that allowed us to be damaged and then kill ourselves.

 

Our lives have value, your life has value.  Semper Pax, Dr. Z

 

Comments

  1. It also helps me to make a special note of saying that in this life anyone who suffers needlessly will have a better life next time lol and that people who use god as an excuse to criticize and condemn the happiness sorrow or lifestyle/philosophy of others will themselves have to experience helplessness and indifference.to me it seems quite clear that what god is above all else is the incomprehensible, which is that all lives are real: happy sad and everything in between. no one life has value more than another. period. So if yours seems meaningless try to at the very least enjoy the laughter and tears of others who have found themselves in a similar predicament. many artists have made pieces that are a testament to this. Maybe that can help. Not everyone is burdened with a psychotic urge to make light of the suffering of others. try watching the wire series. It is a brilliant commentary on Americans, the illusion of happiness, and what happens when people fail to respect the pain of others as being just as valid as anything else.

    • Hello (again), I pretty much wrote what I intended in reply to your earlier comment. I do agree with what I think you meant to suggest about Americans in this comment: Americans have a lot to learn about how to allow those who are suffering to do so with grace and dignity. Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  2. telling poeple their lives have value when they are in pain is sick. A better and more human reply would be to say look, you will only live so long. Try to focus on try things tha give you feel comfort, however small, and don’t be afraid to tell people “I am having a bad day right now I just need to take care of myself”. Don’t let the cheer leading brigades further eliminate the feeling of relief that comes from knowing that you don’t run a 10k or it’s emotional equivalent on crutches -the expectation that you should simply get over it is sick. try to focus on grieving your losses and take as long as you need with that. Don’t worry if you feel life is passing you by. You are in life just by being and it does end. don’t end it prematurely. It’s not that long. People who try to paint over serious pain with cheer are either Ignorant or sick. I have many times planned to end my life and each time the thing that has stopped me has been the plan itself. no matter how bad it seems it would be worse to wake up knowing it was your last day and that you were the one putting an end to it. It would. It may not seem like it would. If you do it in a rush, you will not be able to anticipate that final moment in which you feel my god no matter what has happened this is just the worst thing that has happened by far. Don’t listen to the “god” thing or you’ll never make it. In my opinion it is a Savage and cowardly attitude based in ignorance. As far as painting and music are concerned, what heals is honesty. Painters and musicians aren’t saints and neither of those activities will make your day better when you don’t even feel like eating. eat. Try to move. Start there. Get massages. Dogs help with pain and grief. Start there. Hopefully the image of god is willing to take. A gigantic kick in the teeth from every single person who has suffered without any good reason and clearly for no purpose.
    Do things that make you feel good. And don’t feel the need to constantly be thankful. Know that there are people in the world who simply are sorry that you are suffering and have no desire to use your suffering for their own selfish purposes or to further their own dogmatic approach to existence. Human beings. Even if not in your zip code.

    • Hello, I am sorry you consider it “sick” that I state that people who are in pain also have value. You kindly left me two different comments. Most of the content from your comments fall into one of two categories: First, you appear to attribute attitudes to me that I do not myself state. For example, I did no state that people should simply get over their suffering. You seem to be transferring onto me from other conversations or websites which bother you. Second, there are things we agree on which you seem to think we do not. If a person does not have a PTSD-trigger with dogs, then a dog can be very good for them…Golly! We agree on something!
      Not every illness need be terminal. If it is not terminal, there is nothing wrong with offering encouragement and helping people realize they still have value.
      There are an abundance of people who are happy to tell those who suffer, “look, you will only live so long.” I do not need to add to that abundance. Nor, do I have a need to add to that abundance. I’ll just say what I know: Life has value…even yours.
      If you, yourself, are suffering in any way, I hope that you are seeking professional assistance.
      Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  3. Really – my life had value? I don’t think do any more.

    • Yes, your life does have value. We are all created in the image and likeness of God. I realize that not everyone believes that, but it is true none the less. You do have value. Our creation gives us inherent value which can never be taken away. We can strive to be in healthy relationships and to make our own creative acts through art, writing, music and so on. These actions also exemplify the value within us. Semper Pax, Dr. Z

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