As a Deployment Behavioral Health Psychologist with the Center for Deployment Psychology, one of my specific areas of interest is that of suicide. I am fortunate enough to be able to teach pre-doctoral interns and civilian mental health providers about suicide prevalence, theory, associated risk and protective factors, as well as treatment. In addition, I work in a military treatment facility, so I see patients and supervise interns with their caseloads.
Blog posts with the tag "Suicide"
September is Suicide Awareness Month in the United States. I would like to use this opportunity to discuss three ideas that are important in bringing awareness to the effort of reducing the burden of suicide. I will briefly touch on the stigma of suicide, the extent of suicide among Veterans, and the warning signs of suicide as they relate to Service members and Veterans.
We all know that suicide among Veterans is a significant problem. The Veteran’s Administration (VA) recently released information that highlights the extent of this problem and showcases the VA’s efforts to combat suicide. The data covers the records of over 50 million Veterans, ranging from 1979 through 2014 across all 50 states.
As educators in the field of suicidology, we have often trained and supervised providers in the conduct of suicide risk assessments. In general, we have noted that while providers are becoming more knowledgeable about how to perform a suicide risk assessment, they continue to experience challenges in how to best communicate about suicide risk. Based on our experiences, we would like to provide you with some practical recommendations when completing clinical documentation and when consulting with colleagues.
My brother, Wayne, would have celebrated his 41st birthday this month, but he died by suicide 10 years ago. If you’ve ever doubted that stigma surrounds this topic, consider that it has taken me (a psychologist who’s spent years working with trauma and empathizing with clients’ darkest moments) a decade to acknowledge his suicide in a public, uncensored venue. My CDP colleagues have written powerful blogs about coping in survivors of suicide (see recent posts by Dr. Lisa French here and Dr. Regina Shillinglaw here) that inspired to me to reflect both on how I’ve coped with Wayne’s death, and how it has influenced my clinical work.