PTSD and Suicide Risk

Those who witness or are involved in a violent, gruesome, or horrific act are at risk for developing Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The unsettling emotions stirred by PTSD can cause some to be more at risk for suicide than others who have not experienced such post-trauma. Experts assert that family, friends, and doctors keep a watchful eye on those who are struggling to work through PTSD and urge those with PTSD to seek professional help if their symptoms begin overpowering their decisions and actions.

Emotional Strain of PTSD

According to clinical psychologist, Martin N. Seif, PhD, the three most commanding emotions ignited by PTSD are anxiety, anger, and guilt. In PTSD, these emotions are extreme and powerful. The anxiety can cause sleeplessness, nightmares, and seclusion from society. Anger can be so stirred that a person can harm the people they love. Guilt can pull a person away from those people and the things they love.

All of these emotions can worsen existing psychological problems such as depression or anxiety. When someone with PTSD has a co-existing mental health condition it greatly heightens the risk of suicide.

Feeling Out of Control

One of the most dangerous emotions of PTSD is the feeling that emotions and actions are out of control. Vivid flashbacks disrupt the mind both at home and at work, adding to that feeling of a loss of control over the mind. Anxiety can cause irritability, agitation, and fear of life.

With therapy and treatment, patients can resume that control that puts them at risk for suicide. Through professional help, support from family and friends, and personal coping strategies, those who suffer from PTSD can gradually heal.

Suicide Risk for Veterans

War veterans commonly develop PTSD. A study released in a 2009 issue of the Journal of Traumatic Stress analyzed soldiers returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The article stated that veterans who had symptoms of PTSD were four times more likely to have suicidal thoughts than veterans without PTSD. Almost half of the soldiers in the study admitted having suicidal thoughts or behaving suicidal within a month when they sought care. Three percent of those veterans actually attempted to take their life within four months of seeking help.

Coping and Reducing the Risk of Suicide

Psychotherapy and the guidance and support of a mental health professional can help lessen the risk of suicide in those who suffer from PTSD. Professional help can be the strength when a person feels hopeless.

Doctors also have suggestions that the individual can do to help themselves. Stress from work, family, or finances can add even more pressure on a person who is mentally struggling to find peace. Doctors recommend that the individual find an activity to help them release their stress and in which they can find joy. Exercise, walking, biking, dance, painting, woodworking, and all other varieties of sports and hobbies could help alleviate much stress and help the individual find some enjoyment and control in their lives.

Staying connected with friends and family can also strengthen the individual with the help of multiple arms and hearts. Setting attainable goals during recovery will aid the individual in seeing beyond the flashbacks and looking toward a happier future.