Canadian Soldier Suicides – What Can Be Done

December 5th, 2013

As of this afternoon (December 4), it appears that four Canadian soldiers have committed suicide in just over one week.

Over the years, I have had the great honour of treating Canadian military veterans. I am amazed by their courage… their courage while actively serving as well as their courage in psychological treatment as they face what they witnessed and experienced as soldiers. Much has been said in the media recently about the stigma associated with seeking psychological help within the military community. In the warrior culture, it is thought that it is unnatural (and potentially detrimental) to admit that you have emotional difficulties. There have also been media reports about Canadian soldiers’ access (or lack of access) to mental health services to deal with the psychological injuries they suffered due to their military service.

The purpose of this blog post is not to rehash or debate what is being covered in the media. Rather, I want to speak to the value of supporting those who served our country. In a previous post, I mentioned that psychological treatment of trauma involves three phases. The first phase is creating safety and stability. If you are a friend or loved one of a soldier, you can help create safety and stability in a number of ways: call to say hello, bring over a coffee, or go for a walk. These are simple acts, I understand. Nevertheless, they are acts that show care, interest, and presence. Being present matters. You can help. You don’t need to provide treatment to your friend or loved one who is a soldier (many psychologists are equipped to do this), but you can help. And helping to create stability is very important in a soldier’s life. Especially now.

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Did you know…

One in five Canadians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime.

 

A psychologist can help.

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