Let’s Talk about Suicide
Service members may experience uniquely stressful and emotional situations. These situations can result in psychological health concerns and, for some, can lead to thoughts of suicide. When feelings of loneliness, distress and/or suicide come up, substance use can make these feelings worse.
Substance use may be a risk factor for suicide
Substance use (including risky drug use) doesn’t cause suicide, but when psychological health concerns aren’t addressed or become too much to handle, some might use substances to cope. When substance use increases, psychological health concerns may increase as well. This can potentially lead to initial or increased thoughts of suicide.
What factors can put someone at risk for suicide?
Psychological health concerns can happen to anyone, at any point in life. For Service members, there can be specific instances that may lead to more anxiety or loneliness:
- Loss of a family member, friend or fellow Service member
- Career setbacks such as not getting promoted or disciplinary action
- Before, during and just after a deployment
- Physical pain after an injury or illness
- Difficult family situations
- Relationship issues
- Financial problems
- Transitioning from military to civilian life
Check in with yourself and others
There are possible warning signs that you may notice in yourself or in others. Trust your instincts and be honest if you see any of the following:
- Increased substance or alcohol use
- Sudden or dramatic changes in mood or reckless or risky behaviors
- Changes in sleeping or eating habits
- Feeling hopeless, saying there’s no reason to live
- Giving away possessions
- Unusual spending
- Increased time alone
If you see the warning signs in yourself or others, say something and get help early. If ignored, symptoms are likely to get worse, not better. Remember that there are counseling options for Service members. Use these tips and resources:
- Reach to the health care or behavioral health team at your military treatment facility.
- Call the Military Crisis Line, 800-273-8255 (PRESS 1), or text a message to 838255. Confidential online chats are also available.
- Talk to your support system and/or chaplain. Talking about your daily stress and anxiety with a friend, loved one or chaplain is a good place to start finding relief. If you are concerned about others, listen to them and offer support.
- Use the Military & Family Life Counseling Program Talk face-to-face with professionals trained to work with the military community.
You do not have to be diagnosed with a psychological health condition or have psychological health concerns to be at risk for harming yourself. Instead of turning to substances, talk about how you’re feeling with others, understand the warning signs and reach out for support.