Health & Safety

September 20, 2012

Getting help is as easy as talking to someone

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Dr. Barton Goldsmith
Psychotherapist and author of “100 Ways to Boost Your Self-Confidence — Believe in Yourself and Others Will Too.”

ACE stands for “Ask, Care and Escort.” It encourages Soldiers to directly and honestly question any battle buddy who exhibits suicidal behavior. The Soldier should ASK the battle buddy whether he or she is suicidal, CARE for the battle buddy and ESCORT the battle buddy to the source of professional help.

For many people, it’s hard to imagine why someone would take his or her own life. The only explanation I can offer is that those who make this unfortunate choice are feeling so much pain that ending their lives seems like the most logical thing to do.

If you’re having suicidal thoughts, you need to think about what would happen in the aftermath and the pain you would bring to others. On the other side of the coin, you may want to hurt your family or loved ones and mistakenly think that the act of taking your own life will be payback for all the discomfort they’ve caused you.

However, in this case, your decision would be wrong.

No matter how much the world has dumped on you, there’s always a reason to live. Even if you have lost everything that you thought was important, as long as you are alive, you can do something to improve your circumstances. And if you don’t want to help yourself, think about the help you could give to others. There’s a good reason for you to be here; all you have to do is find it.

Many people are surprised to learn that most suicides take place in late July and August, and not during the winter holidays. We don’t know why, but because we do know that most suicides happen during the summer, I think it’s important to remind readers about the warning signs. It might help save a life.

For some reason, people tend to become more depressed at this time of year, so if you or someone you know is suffering from depression, getting a checkup and a psychological evaluation would be wise. Depression can worsen in subtle ways that we may not see, and an objective exam can help us determine where we are and what we need to do.

If you are depressed and your doctor recommends medication, please strongly consider it. Many of the new antidepressants are amazing healing tools. I have seen them work on many patients, and the results can be wonderful. Taking medication does not mean you are weak; it means that you have a situational or biochemical imbalance in your life and body. The pills will help you recover, and you can have a better life. Yes, there can be side effects, so it’s important to work closely with your doctors and maintain your therapy. A combination of medication and counseling creates the best results if you suffer from depression and anxiety.

Trying to deny your own feelings won’t work for long, and getting help is as easy as making a phone call. Yes, you can research all you want on the Web, but that doesn’t replace talking to a caring person.

If you do find yourself having thoughts of suicide, or if you know someone who is considering it, please call for help immediately. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-SUICIDE, where trained counselors can assist you at any time. Even if you just want more information, the hotline will be helpful.

(Editor’s note: This article was submitted by Michael Duncan, Suicide Prevention Program Manager with Army Substance Abuse Program, here, and reprinted with permission from Dr. Barton Goldsmith.)




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