Today I had the displeasure of attending another funeral of a soldier in my unit that committed suicide. That’s the 2nd one in less than a year. Honestly, it’s an awful experience. If I never have to watch another mother bawl her eyes out for her child that is gone while hearing taps, I’d be ok with that. Sadly, I’m afraid it won’t be the last time I will have to go through this. As hard as it is for me and my fellow soldiers who were his friends, I can’t imagine what sorrow and pain the family is going through. I pray they will find comfort in this awful season of their lives.
There are not many answers. Mostly there are questions.
What signs did I miss?
What could I have done differently?
How did I not see this coming?
What can I do to prevent the next one?
Why is suicide so prevalent in the military?
Like I said, I don’t have the answers. However, I have a few suggestions.
- Pray for your soldiers.
- Be involved in their lives.
- Ask them how they are doing. Then Ask them How they are REALLY doing and then be prepared to listen for as long as needed.
- Offer to walk beside them through whatever demons or difficulties they are facing.
- Confront them directly but gently in love if you feel or notice that something is not right.
- Don’t just send them links to resources. Walk with them hand in hand to counseling, therapy, a chaplain or preacher.
If you know a soldier who is struggling through some rough times in their life, please check on them.
If you are alone and feeling suicidal, please know that there are people out there who care about you and love you. You have friends, family, co-workers, even total strangers that love and care for you. Your life is precious. Please don’t be afraid to call and ask for help. There is no shame in admitting you are human and that sometimes life really really sucks and you don’t know how to go own. There are no problems that can’t be overcome with teamwork. Please reach out to someone. Call me and I will be glad to help in any way I can. Call one of these numbers if you feel like anybody you know personally can’t understand. Sometimes talking to a total stranger can help the healing begin.
Every life is precious and I pray for anyone who may be struggling with suicidal thoughts. Please know that we love and care about you. I hope we can make progress as a human race in dealing with this issue of suicide.