BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — A recent report from the Department of Defense shows that active-duty Army suicides have jumped 46 percent this year compared to last year’s second quarter 2020 report.
Grant Rogers with Veterans of Foreign Wars said it’s disturbing watching suicide rates for the military increase each year.
“Pain and discomfort comes to mind the most because it’s not something that we can necessarily control,” he said. “So it’s really sad to see, you know, humans that raise their right hand and be so brave and vulnerable to serve this country, not knowing what they’re going to go in to take their lives.”
Rogers said this hits him on a personal note as several of his comrades took their lives.
“Eighteen of my close friends that I either serve with or met in the veteran community have taken their lives. And then 18 more in a unit that I served with. So, again, this isn’t something that is going to go away anytime soon. And that’s why we have to change the conversation,” he explained.
Recent reports by the Department of Defense are finding significant increases in suicide rates. The data shows an increase of upward of 40 percent with some active-duty military.
Byron Comeaux with Magnolia Care Center Veterans Home said it can be a tough job.
“As for you being in that stressful environment, they put you right back into it. You’re going back. You have to do what you have because it’s not only your life that you’re protecting. You’re protecting other lives that are in line,” he explained.
Comeaux said that these numbers have increased dramatically over the last year and a half because of increased added stress in being in the military, PTSD, and change. These changes range from the COVID-19, recent storms, and shifts in structure.
“What they’ve been through doing combat, they’ve been through other situations, just doing the everyday job in the military is usually hazardous on a day-to-day basis. Why such a big spike between last year and this year? Well, it’s many different changes,” said Comeaux.
He said he deals with veterans who have PTSD and sees the struggles they go through every day.
Rogers said an initiative created by One Tribe Foundation allows them to know they are all together to try to limit these tragic events. They use an Honor ring to help spread this message.
“The ring is placed on the index finger. It’s to remind everyone that you’re not alone and it makes you think twice. It’s on the trigger finger, makes you think twice before taking those actions to take your life,” Rogers explained.
He believes conversations need to change and there needs to be a more open discussion about the topic inside and outside of the military units.
“Don’t let fear win because the monster on the other side isn’t as big as it may seem. And we have to be one. One team and one fight, one try to get through this,” said Rogers.
If someone you know is suffering from PTSD or suicidal thoughts you can call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255.