It is a sobering reality that service members, who dedicate their lives to protecting their country, may face a different kind of battle upon returning home – the battle against suicide. Recent studies have shown that the number of active duty service members and veterans who have died by suicide far surpasses the number who have died in combat since 9/11. Despite efforts to improve suicide prevention within the military, the rates of suicide remain alarmingly high, with active duty Army service members being particularly at risk.

The reasons behind the high rates of suicide among service members and veterans are complex and multifaceted. It is important to recognize that the risk factors for active duty service members may differ from those of veterans. Factors such as loneliness, relationship issues, workplace struggles, trauma, disrupted schedules, stress, poor sleep, injuries, and chronic pain have all been linked to suicidal thoughts in active duty service members. Furthermore, veterans may face additional challenges when transitioning to civilian life, compounding their risk of suicide.

In a recent study conducted by a research lab, innovative methods were employed to gain a deeper understanding of the drivers behind suicide risk among service members. By having participants use an app to monitor their mental health and suicide risk factors, researchers were able to identify key symptoms that contributed to suicidal thoughts. Feelings of ineffectiveness, perceived burdensomeness, low sense of belonging, and agitation were found to be significant factors in both moment-to-moment and long-term suicide risk among service members and veterans.

Based on the findings of the study, it is crucial for the military to address the factors that contribute to suicide risk among service members. Creating a sense of belonging and effectiveness within the military community can be a protective factor against suicidal thoughts. This can be achieved by fostering a stronger connection among service members, allowing for more time for reflection, and prioritizing group accomplishments over individual achievements. Additionally, implementing relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation and gentle movement could help reduce feelings of agitation among service members.

As we continue to combat the alarming rates of suicide among service members and veterans, it is essential to provide support and resources for those in need. If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, remember that help is available. Military-specific resources can be accessed by calling 988 and then pressing 1, texting 838255, or visiting www.veteranscrisisline.net. It is vital to reach out for support and know that you are not alone in this battle.

The fight against suicide among service members and veterans requires a multifaceted approach that addresses the underlying risk factors and provides support for those in need. By fostering a sense of belonging, effectiveness, and connection within the military community, we can work towards reducing the rates of suicide and ensuring that those who serve and protect us receive the support they deserve.

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