Archive for October, 2012

Military Suicides Higher Than Combat Deaths

New data released from the Pentagon indicates that in 2012,  there have been more active-duty soldier deaths attributable to suicide than combat.

Texas suicide lawyer Skip Simpson praises Defense Secretary Leon Panetta for putting his finger on one of the main problems of military suicides.

Last month, Panetta said military leaders need to be held accountable for prevention. He said suicide has become an epidemic in the military, with an average of one soldier a day committing suicide – about 33 each month. To raise awareness, he ordered the military to “stand down” for a single day.

These are men and women who put their lives on the line every day for us. We – and specifically the military leadership – have a duty to protect them from harming themselves, as they cope with the tribulations of returning home after living through the horror of war.

Service data indicates that Army soldiers in particular are struggling. The suicide rate among Army soldiers has tripled since 2004, with about 10 for every 100,000 a month in that year to nearly 30 for every 100,000 this year. In July, a record 38 Army soldiers committed suicide.

These figures don’t include the number of retired veterans, who reportedly commit suicide on an average of 18 per day.

Panetta was quoted by various media as saying that leaders must be sensitive to the issue and aware of the warning signs – and they have to be aggressive in addressing it. Seeking help, he said, must be viewed as a sign of courage, not weakness.

Unfortunately, this has not always been the case. Newsweek recently profiled a number of soldiers who had either committed or attempted suicide. One of the latter says that as he sat in the hospital after purposely crashing his motorcycle on the freeway, his father begged him to get help. When he went to his superior, he was told he could be sent to the on-base mental health unit, but that his career might be negatively affected. He was waiting on a promotion to commander, and told that seeking help could put his chances of that position at risk. He declined to get help.

Likely the superior who advised his subordinate not to go to the mental health unit was genuinely trying to help his subordinate by relying on his own experiences with the military. Until recently, going to a mental health clinic spelled the end to a military career. Often, security clearances were pulled, which was the kiss of death.

Until Panetta’s directives to the military leadership become operational and are religiously followed, military suicides will continue at the same alarming rates, Skip Simpson says. VA hospitals and clinics have received Panetta’s message loud and clear and are clearly superior in suicide prevention compared to civilian hospitals and clinics.

As a Texas suicide lawyer, Skip Simpson knows this is not how it should be, and it’s a positive step that the military is beginning to recognize this. But there is still a long way to go.

Part of prevention is recognizing the warning signs. Some of those include:

Sudden behavior or mood changes;

Writing or talking about death or ways to die;

Displaying risky or reckless behaviors;

Expressing hopelessness about the future;

Giving away valuables;

Making arrangements for pets or children;

Spending money erratically;

Withdrawing from others;

Preparing a will;

Sleeping or eating disturbances;

Increased drug or alcohol use;

Displaying rage, anger or a desire for revenge.

If you lost a loved one to suicide, contact the Dallas Law Offices of Skip Simpson, dedicated to holding mental health counselors accountable. Call 214-618-8222.

Recognizing Suicidal Tendencies and Taking Action Are Best Ways for Loved Ones To Help Prevent Suicide

For families of people who are in psychological pain, or who are suffering from what is called “psychache”—the hurt, anguish or overwhelming pain that can take hold in the mind— knowing when to contact a professional on a loved one’s behalf can be daunting. You may be unsure if it’s suicidal behavior, but you are constantly worried. A person, however, will usually show suicide warning signs long before seeing a psychologist, being admitted into a mental health facility or becoming an inpatient in a psychiatric hospital.

Experienced, compassionate Texas suicide lawyer Skip Simpson urges anyone who thinks they may have noticed even the slightest sign that a loved one may be suicidal to take action. Often, it doesn’t take much action to save a life—and to begin the process of ensuring that the person in danger gets help before deciding to take his or her own life. People who have jumped off a bridge in desperation but survived the fall have said they would not have leapt if they had received one smile from one person as they approached the railing. If a smile from a stranger can be that powerful in helping to keep a man who is in anguish over losing his job from choosing to end his life, or to prevent a woman overwhelmed by grief at the loss of her husband from deciding to kill herself, think what a loved one could do to help prevent a suicide.

Sometimes even close relatives will think their loved is not the type of person who could be suicidal. According to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline there are certain suicidal thoughts and actions that men, women or adolescents with psychache may display, especially if they suffer from depression or other disorders linked to a risk of suicide:

  • He reasons that he is a burden to others, feels trapped, has nothing to live for or wants to die.
  • She says she has no reason to live, feels hopeless, is in unbearable pain or should just end it all.
  • He is looking for ways to end his life, such as searching for poisons online or buying a gun.
  • She is drinking more, using drugs excessively or engaging in risky activities.
  • He is full of rage, acting recklessly or focused on seeking revenge.
  • She seems agitated, anxious, and feeling there is no way out.
  • He isolates himself from others and is withdrawn.
  • She is not sleeping much or sleeping all the time.
  • He has increasingly extreme mood swings.
  • She has stopped going to work.
  • He has stopped eating.

If you have a loved one who is showing signs of psychache and suicidal thoughts, act now. Here are several approaches the NSPL recommends that could help save someone’s life:

  • Be direct. Talk openly and matter-of-factly about suicide.
  • Be willing to listen. Allow them to express their feelings and accept those feelings.
  • Don’t be judgmental or debate whether suicide is right or wrong. Don’t lecture on the value of life.
  • Get involved. Become available. Show interest and support.
  • Don’t dare him or her to do it.
  • Don’t act shocked. This will put distance between you.
  • Don’t be sworn to secrecy. Seek support.
  • Offer hope that alternatives are available but do not offer glib reassurance.
  • Take action. Remove means, such as guns or stockpiled pills.
  • Get help from persons or agencies specializing in crisis intervention and suicide prevention.

Families of loved ones who attempted to commit suicide, who killed himself or took her own life in a mental health care facility or psychiatric hospital should also know that clinicians and hospital staff are often underpaid and stretched thin with their workload. Consequently patients are often watched only every 15 minutes, instead of at a higher level of observation, such as one-to-one or in line of sight of a hospital employee.

You have most likely come to this blog because someone you care about, or who is in your professional care, is in danger of committing suicide. Take action before anything happens.  If your loved one committed suicide or attempted suicide—whether as an inpatient, before being admitted to a hospital or emergency room, or after being released—you need a reliable, diligent suicide attorney. Call  Skip Simpson Attorneys and Counselors at 214-618-8222 or complete our online contact form. We understand what you are going through and can fight hard to pursue the compensation you and your family deserve.

A final note: Mr. Simpson rejects many more cases than he accepts. Not all attempted suicides are the result of incompetent care.  Mr. Simpson and the experts he retains distinguish the cases in which law suits are needed from those in which no law suit should be filed.

The Law Offices of Skip Simpson, 2591 Dallas Parkway, Suite 300 Frisco, Texas 75034