Understanding the Causes of Veteran Suicide
But why? Why would Matt hide his struggles from those closest to him?
There is a dangerous stigma that surrounds seeking help for mental health issues. This taboo is often hard for those struggling with mental health issues to work around. “As a man, I think he felt he should be able to manage,” Pam acknowledged as a reason for Matt’s silence. The idea is that men are supposed to be tough. They’re supposed to be able to deal with their problems on their own and stay strong.
For Veterans, the protectors of our country and heroes who keep us safe, this stigma is even more prevalent. No one who puts their life on the line to keep people safe wants to let others see a perceived weakness. “Mental health is nothing to be embarrassed about,” Lisa believes. “But he felt he could not share his struggles with us.”
On July 3rd, 2023, the day before Americans everywhere gathered to celebrate our country and those like Matt who have fought for it, Matt’s battle with PTSD became too much. He took his own life.
“We don’t talk about our mental health enough,” Megan stated with conviction.
The stigma surrounding seeking treatment for mental health amongst Veterans is costing brothers, sons and loved ones their lives. The fear of seeming weak prevents those facing difficulties from taking the necessary steps to address their mental health needs.
As a society, we must work together to eliminate this stigma for the sake of those who are losing their lives because of it. For more winter mornings on sledding hills. For more summer afternoons on the lake. For more Autumn nights with family that will cherish their loved ones as the heroes they are regardless of the demons they’re fighting inside.