Military Deals With High Number Of Suicides - KAUZ-TV: Newschannel 6 Now | Wichita Falls, TX

Military Deals With High Number Of Suicides

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Shocking new statistics show the number of active duty military men and women who committed suicide last year  is higher than the amount of those killed in Afghanistan.

The statistics for veterans is even worse. Army veteran Michael Ballard said ending his life became an option when he had to face life outside of the military.

"I saw the signs in myself. I didn't have anybody to turn to. I consider myself very lucky that I was able to come out of that," said Ballard.

In 2009 Ballard was the victim of an explosion in Afghanistan that crushed his back and severely damaged his right knee. He had to be flown back to the U.S.

"When I came back broken my wife decided that I was no longer good enough for her. So she took the kids and the car and left. Then of course once you retire you have to leave post," said Ballard.

The former combat medic retired in October and returned to Wichita Falls from the state of Washington. But the harsh reality that led him to think about committing suicide didn't come until December.

Ballard said, "I wrapped some gifts for my dogs and I realized I didn't have any gifts for me. I didn't have any gifts for anybody else and came to a whole new understanding of how somebody could commit suicide being that alone and feeling that lost."

Helen Farabee's Veteran Peer Specialist Kymm Putman said in average, a veteran takes his own life every single hour and at least one active duty member does it each day in the U.S. This high number is being blamed on the stigma that comes with getting help.

"They think they may lose their job or that they may be considered weak if they ask for help," said Putman.

And Ballard agreed. He said, "You're considered weak, a loser, selfish. People will carry that with them, that thought about you."

Thankfully Ballard pushed away the stigma and got help not only from experts but also from his family.

"You have to force yourself into going out and asking for help by letting somebody know that you're in that spot. You can't do it by yourself," said Ballard.

Both Ballard and Putman said another reason why they think suicide cases in the military are going up is because there have been so many deployments in the last years. Helen Farabee has a support group for veterans, active duty members and their families called "Bring Everyone in the Zone." To be part of the group you could contact Kymm Putman at 940-397-3315.

 

Tanya De Jesus, Newschannel 6

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