Mental Health Within Our Military and First Responders
There is no doubt that the mental health concern in our society is not where it should be. Although the topic is more addressed now than in the past, we must start holding each other accountable for our brothers and sisters. As a Combat Veteran and Firefighter, I have seen the firsthand devastation of Suicide more times than I care to admit. Before I joined the Military, I did not understand why someone would take their own life. I was as distant to the subject as I was to the reality of it. How could things be so bad that a person would take their own life, and destroy the lives of everyone who loved them? I am sure we have all seen the posters or heard the slogan “suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem”.
What I have learned about the subject, is people who are suffering from depression due to stress or witnessing traumatic events, do not want or understand why they feel the way they do. Everyone has something in their life that brings them joy and happiness. We all have things that we sacrifice time and effort for, physically and mentally exhausting ourselves in order to gain the reward for our efforts. The reward may be a promotion at work that will bring gratification or financial stability to our families, or time off for leisure activities with friends and loved ones. What happens when the things we work so hard for no longer bring us happiness? Leaving life full of stress and sacrifice with no reward, and making every day harder and less enjoyable, giving us nothing to look forward to tomorrow.
The question we must ask ourselves, is how can we help with this epidemic? I will not argue the fact that depression and suicidal thoughts require professional help and is an extremely complex condition, but with an illness that is commonly not self-recognized, it is up to us as individuals to protect our loved ones. If someone you love or care about has suddenly and uncharacteristically withdrawn from their normal self, say something. It is up to us as individuals to make the first step if we have concerns about the people around us. There are numerous state, federal, and local nonprofit organizations available with free information and aid. The answer to the problem must start within us as individuals. Those of us working in stressful and traumatic career fields, we must take the initiative to become our brother’s keeper and recognized the signs in ourselves if we fall victim to this illness. One life lost is too many. If you know someone or you yourself are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please call me anytime day or night.
Justin Brady, Owner Bio-One Biloxi