Tag Archives: suicide

War and Families: The Uncounted

Suicides are increasing among parents, spouses, children, and siblings of veterans.

“I was pretty afraid of my dad when he came back from Iraq. I didn’t know who this man…You can’t forget being terrified of your parent and terrified for your life.”

“I am married to a Marine who has been through five deployments…I think that I had just been lonely for so long that it felt like maybe I didn’t matter.”

“I lost my daughter two years later. She took her life over the death of her brother. She couldn’t handle the pain of her brother’s death.”

“I hadn’t even begun to comprehend Freddie’s death. He was killed in action. How could my brother take his life? I had lost my whole family, and all I could think about would it would be better if I was gone too.”

Veterans & Suicide Hotlines: Combined

In the year 2000, a nine million dollar federal grant funded the national suicide prevention crisis hotline. Good timing, as a year later a handful of people in the United States government would start a war in Afghanistan, and two years later those same people would decide to invade Iraq, a country which had not been in any way responsible for 9/11. The result would be disastrous in many ways, not the least of which was, or is, tens of thousands of men returning from war physically, emotionally, and spiritually crippled.

By 2007, the national suicide prevention line was combined with the veterans crisis line, providing “special suicide prevention service for U.S. military veterans through an agreement with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) and U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). When dialing 1-800-273-TALK (8255), veterans, active military, and their families are prompted, during the automated greeting, to press one to be connected to a veterans suicide prevention hotline specialist located in the VA call center in New York.”

This is a national travesty and there is no better indication that America is waging “Unjust Wars” than to have so many men and women returning and wanting to take their own lives.

Reporters and talking heads continued to express surprise and bewilderment over the fact that that the Culture of Death that we call “war” leads to suicides. They scratch their heads and act like it is some kind of grand anomaly. Of course the deaths of these men and women, deaths which are also casualties of war, will not be counted among the heroes, though they too paid the ultimate price, as Matthew Hoh explains;

As Matthew Hoh wrote in 2013: “If we were to build a memorial to the Afghan and Iraq Wars today, over 6,500 names of those killed would be enshrined. What is so very shameful not to face is the many thousands upon thousands who have killed themselves after coming home and not counting or including them in remembrances and memorials. Will we cling to old narratives and falsehoods about the honor and glory of war or will we finally admit the bitter, dirty and brutal truth: the Afghan and Iraq Wars did not kill 6,500 Americans, but rather 13,000 or 20,000….”

“Our hearts were made for You, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in you.” – St. Augustine of Hippo

I wish that one of the little flyers in the back of Catholic Churches was for veterans returning home from war. I wish next to the pamphlet that says “Are you thinking about having an abortion?” there was a pamphlet that said, “Are you thinking about joining the military?” I wish Super Bowl commercials would call for a moment of silence to grieve for those who have lost their lives in war, both soldiers and civilians. Instead we have idolatrous garbage like this in the churches and Super Bowl commercials that paint a Norman Rockwell picture of what it’s like to come home from war. Maybe after another decade we will tire of all this.