Thoughts about ending one’s own life are among the most fleeting forms of human thought. It happens to many of us, whether we are mentally healthy or mentally ill and some would say that it happens to all of us, sometime in our lives, whether we care to admit it or not. It is one of the most shameful thoughts anyone can have.

Under stressful conditions these common, fleeting thoughts can become more frequent and lasting. The suicidal thoughts take on a haunting feeling, an almost spooky character. They can come to us simply as an overall feeling of destructiveness with no real target, just a tangle of thoughts about the breakdown of everything. It is frightening to us causing us to wonder, “how did I get to this state?” As mentioned above the shame associated with this can be of little help in getting rid of or managing these thoughts and can actually strengthen the suicidal thinking. This can happen with the more chronic mental illnesses, with repeated trauma or in times of war. It can turn an everyday experience, like driving a car into a real gamble.

One of the things we know about suicidal thinking is that it gains strength when we are alone with it. Again, the shame of it keeps us alone with it and keeps us from talking about it. But when we talk about it with a family member, friend, doctor or counselor it loses much of its strength. One of the best things we can do is reach out and talk to someone about these thoughts. This may not make the thoughts go away but it can help us manage the thoughts better and increase our willingness and ability to ‘talk-it-through’ when we are stressed out. Again, since the shame and social taboo of suicidal thinking is so strong one of the easiest things to do is pick up a phone and speak anonymously to someone at a crisis line. The Veteran’s Crisis Line is devoted to helping Veterans in crisis and their families. Please give us a call anytime at 1-800-273-8255 and press ‘1’ or visit us online.

Robert Hawkes is a Veterans Crisis Line Supervisor.

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Published on Sep. 6, 2011

Estimated reading time is 1.9 min.

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10 Comments

  1. Peter November 7, 2011 at 10:22 am

    Veterans Day November 11, 2011
    How can you thank a US Military Veteran on this up coming Veterans Day when you knowingly let the newspapers censor a disabled Veterans opinion letters of government wrongs? A few people tell, claim my letters are repetitive and a danger to the public. The neglected, homeless and disabled veterans praise and encourage me to keep bringing up the wrongs harming veterans with out the public being aware of what the Veterans Administration and our elected officials secretly do to those the public on Veterans Day will call heroes. The VA Red Flag and the claim of safety of the public grants a free hand to cover up the wrongs harming the very citizens that gave their future lives to keep you safe. So few powerful want to censor the words exposing government wrongs to harm and control so many. Newspapers censoring the US Military Veterans words are the greatest harm being inflicted on US Military Veterans across the USA on this Veterans Day.
    The NH Government, supported by the VA is using my service-connected disabilities to scare the public. These very government departments stop my medical care to stop my opinion letters. Safety of the public they claim warrants a red flag to inflict shame and hardship on my family and me. What safety of the public warrants the cruelty and harm on any citizen on any day of the year? A US Military Veteran that volunteers his time to help a family from a different town because they called a stranger and asked for help with out hesitation puts his hand out in support. The NH Supreme Court can never be granted the power to harm a disabled Veteran that files a case of criminal constitutional wrongs against one of their attorney/brother judges. The NH SC refused to hear the case; the newspapers censor the public from being informed and the innuendos and harassment from government officials start under the heading of public safety.
    The truth is so clearly documented in each of my letters plus government and court papers. Newspapers censoring harm us all. Rejected medical care is documented in my letters the VA reads each day for the only treatment that I can get is if an ambulance takes me to a civilian hospital for emergency care of service-connected at great public expense. I am by far not the only US Military Veteran swept under the rug. Harming veterans for safety is a common practice at the VA.
    You cannot honor US Military Veterans on Veterans Day if you do not respect what we did it for. To honor US Military Veterans on this Veterans Day publish our letters and…

  2. your hcg September 30, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    I so love my life and i aint gonna take it for any reason. not for anything

  3. Propiedades La Plata September 30, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    it always amazes me when i hear people still commit suicide. why the hell will someone want to take his life?

  4. cheetah print bedding September 30, 2011 at 7:30 am

    i have learned alot from this. ill look out to people today
    thanks

  5. naija gossip September 29, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    i just read a book on how a pastor stopped a teenager from comitting suicide. i learnt alot from this. The way the pastor went about it being able to convince this kid

  6. Dan Cedusky September 16, 2011 at 8:28 am

    The Pysch Dr’s at the VAMC’s should spend more time talking & listening to the patient and less time trying to get them to stop smoking. How many PYSCH Drs are prescribing smoking patches, viagra, and far too many RX’s etc. Review what they are prescribing. Take these pills, see ya in 6 months.

    • Allen Walbridge September 16, 2011 at 5:05 pm

      The one I have is great. I managed to quit taking morphine. God Bless him.

  7. Robert Hawkes September 8, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    Hi Tom,

    You ask good questions.

    There are many reasons why Vietnam Veterans are homeless and have mental illnesses. Some Veterans entered the war with a predisposition to mental illness. The stress of war brought out this predisposition in some of them. Of course the stress of war and the injuries sustained in war can cause Veterans to have mental illnesses even if they went into the service mentally healthy. The homelessness that many Vietnam Veterans experience can be as a direct result of mental illness but also can be as a result of the secondary problem of poor employment history which can easily lead to homelessness.

    I can’t knowledgably comment on the effects of AO on Veterans but there are treatments for a range of toxic poisonings. Dealing with this type of poisoning is very hard, very difficult and it can be very disheartening to try to get treatment and feel little relief from the symptoms. I would strongly suggest that you continue to meet with your therapist to discuss your symptoms and of course I strongly urge you to discuss your suicidal ideas in relation to your long term disorder. I hope this has been helpful.

    Best, Bob

    • Jen & PAT Byrne September 16, 2011 at 6:18 pm

      I hope this gets to BOB! and anyone else that knows of the “””(the neurological and mental diseases associated with Agent Orange,( private studies) when he said to me autopsies had been done on Vietnam vets exposed to A.O.in the late 80″s and there was evidence of brain damage in all of them.The VA has know this 30 years. Do you think this knowledge was used against vets for claims and health care?)””
      ————————————————-
      AND THEY HAVE THE NERVE TO ‘GO OVER THERE AND SPEND TAX DOLLARS TO CLEAN UP A PLACE THAT A WAR THAT KILLED MILLIONS OF
      AMERICANS. THE AIR BASES ARE FULL OF AO. JUST A MONT AGO, I READ WHERE THEY FEEL SO SORRY ABOUT ALL THE KIDS COMEING OUT LIKE MONSTORS FROM MARS. SO OUR GOV THINKS THEY OWE THEM THIS!
      WHAT ABOUT ALL OF US, ONES THAT HAVE DIED FOR THE 80’S
      ‘autopsies had been done on Vietnam vets exposed to A.O.in the late 80″s”?
      THIS REALLY “SUCKS”!
      NOW WE HAVE HAD “MARCH ON WASHINGTON FOR GAY RIGHTS’ IT WON!
      MARTAIN L KING! BIG MARCH ON WASHINGING FOR EQUAL RIGHTS” THEY WON!
      WHEN ARE WE, ONES THAT’S LEFT, DOING OUT MARCH ON WASHINGTON
      FOR OUR RIGHTS FOR ALL VIETNAM VETERANS?????
      ANY TIME ANY DAY! LET’S GO!

  8. Tom September 6, 2011 at 8:36 pm

    Mr. Hawks, I recently was having a session with my PTSD shrink, I was explaining the strange wierd thoughts going on in my head, and I had been reading about the neurological and mental diseases associated with Agent Orange,( private studies) when he said to me autopsies had been done on Vietnam vets exposed to A.O.in the late 80″s and there was evidence of brain damage in all of them.The VA has know this 30 years. Do you think this knowledge was used against vets for claims and health care? Why would so many Vietnam vets be homeless, mental disorders? Could it be from toxic poisoning? Do you have an opinion on how long a human can deal with dioxin,TCDD poisoning? Do you believe assisted termination should be an alternative to suffering?

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