OTTAWA — The country's top military officer is weighing in with his concerns about the problem of suicide in the Canadian Armed Forces.
Gen. Jonathan Vance, the chief of the defence staff, says in a statement that the Forces need to work harder on the ever-present issue of suicide prevention.
A June report from the military surgeon general suggested that those with a history of deployment may have an increased risk of suicide compared with those who have never been deployed.
It found that the suicide risk is higher for those in the army, whose members tend to be the ones exposed to ground combat.
Vance, who is likely reacting to recent media reports about suicide and the Canadian Forces, says he is looking at what needs to be done to get help for troubled servicemen and women.
He says the health and well-being of the troops and their families is his highest priority.
"We already have an extensive suicide prevention program in place, supported by highly capable and compassionate personnel, but clearly we must continually strive to improve," the statement said.
Vance is urging his troops to seek help if they need it.
"To all members of the Canadian Armed Forces, if you think that you, or someone you know needs help, get it now," he said.
"Go to your nearest Canadian Armed Forces health clinic or civilian emergency health care centre. All levels of the Canadian Armed Forces leadership, and I, support you. You are not alone."
The June report looked at suicide in the Forces between 1995 and 2014. It found a trend in the last decade, which covers much of the war in Afghanistan.
"While past analyses had not shown an association between having been deployed and completed suicide, the most recent findings suggest a trend towards an elevated suicide rate ratio ... in the past decade in those regular force males with a history of deployment relative to those regular force males without a history of deployment," the report said.
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Prior to the trauma, they often felt invulnerable as if nothing could harm them (the way a very wealthy person who can buy anything -- and sometimes anyone -- can feel all the way to a freshly trained soldier before they enter battle).
As bulletproof as they once thought they were is as vulnerable as they have turned out to be. There is a belief that they don't know how they survived the first trauma and an unconscious belief that they wouldn't survive being re-traumatized. One of the reasons for anniversary reactions.
Not being able to find peace outside or inside their life or inside their psyche, leads to a brittleness where anything can set them off. This leads to the heightened startle respond common to people with PTSD.
Inside there is a deeply held belief that any re-traumatization will cause them to shatter and fragment and there is an feeling of impending inevitability that it will happen which creates a state of terror, difficulty sleeping, heavy self-medication (which also dulls ones rational thinking).
Most of the symptoms of PTSD from withdrawing to alcohol and substance abuse to not sleeping (since the experience of and fear of nightmares adds to the terror) are attempts to avoid re-traumatization.
Feeling on the brink of going from brittle to shattering, fragmenting, losing their mind and never getting it back can cause a person who needs to be in control to take desperate measures. That is because to such a person, losing complete control is a fate worse than death.