I ended yesterday’s blog post with the sentence: “Sometimes the unbearable memories are so bad that death is preferable to continuous suffering.” In other words, suicide. I know what it feels like to be in such pain from battlefield memories that I don’t see how I can go on living. I choose to bear the pain and try to live life to the fullest. But not all veterans do. In 2019, the most recent year for which complete figures are available, the suicide rate among veterans was 31.6 per 100,000, substantially higher than the rate among non-veteran U.S. adults (16.8 per 100,000). And one study found that at least four times as many active-duty personnel and war veterans of post-9/11 conflicts have died of suicide than have died in combat—an estimated 30,177 have died by suicide as compared with the 7,057 killed in post-9/11 war operations.
So the wounds to the soul inflicted by combat are real and dangerous. PTSI can be a killer. I urge all readers who know anyone suffering from PTSI to show interest and sympathy and to encourage the sufferer to share his memories. By opening up to you, the victim of the disease will face his or her memories and begin to come to terms with them.
That could mean a life saved.