As I look at another news stories that brings spotlight on soldier suicide, I’m saddened at the comments by civilians and some military members or their families on these stories posted by the tv news channels. One of the news organizations called the soldier a “suspect,” like the soldier was a criminal. Calling him a suspect is not only insensitive it is adding to an already wide spread stigma. He needs help, not being viewed as a criminal.
There is a stigma not only in the military but in our news media as well on soldier/veteran suicide and PTSD. For many people, they associate our veterans and service members with PTSD as being homicidal who are capable at any moment of killing massive amounts of people. Very few time does the tv news media actually show what most veterans with PTSD go through day by day, and the simple fact that they aren’t violent. The news media doesn’t bring up the massive amounts of medications our veterans and service members are given. Medications that can bring on more issues. They don’t bring up the fact that most of these active duty service members go to get help only to receive very little, or veterans who seek help stand in a l o no line, waiting many months, only to give up in the interim.
The stigma is still there, and if we want to stop that stigma, we have to start with the leaders in our military and our tv news organizations. Our leaders in the military cannot ignore a service member when they start showing signs of PTSD. Leaders should be trained on the signs of PTSD, and go through classes on what to do if a service member starts to show signs of PTSD. They also cannot punish that person or ignore loved ones coming from them. Getting help to our service members quickly is paramount. The sooner they get help, the better.
With the news media, stop sensationalized these stories when a service member or veteran is violent. Help educate about PTSD/veteran suicide and be a part of the solution not the problem. These are not only people we are talking about, these are people who have sacrificed for their country. Just because you can’t see their wounds doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Please, stop the stigma.