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Old October 8, 2012, 06:07 PM   #1
BarryLee
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Military Suicides and Private Weapons

There is an interesting article in the NY Times related to efforts underway to separate potentially suicidal soldiers from their personal firearms. Basically the push is on to allow the military to talk to the soldiers and their families and encourage them to remove weapons from their homes. There are also some who would like to see a way to flag potentially suicidal soldiers so they could not make purchases at on base gun stores.

While initially it does seem like these efforts are well intentioned and appear to be moving cautiously one does wonder where these efforts might lead. Anyway, I thought it was an interesting read as we see more and more discussion about efforts to keep firearms away from those dealing with mental or emotional disorders.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/08/us...ml?ref=us&_r=0
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Old October 8, 2012, 06:39 PM   #2
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It is pretty standard to recommend that people who are at risk have dangerous methodologies removed from their immediate access.

While this can be seen as an RKBA issue, I don't come down that way. With clear warning signs of suicidal ideation, civilians, police and military families would be wise to do so.

The impulse may not be resistable to the suffering. I don't this this is a blanket attempt to control firearms.
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Old October 8, 2012, 06:44 PM   #3
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I fear it's a first step to other bad ideas. Several commanders over the years have tried to secure/register all privately owned weapons in their commands.

Yes, I see the point in it. However, lots also die from drugs (prescription sleeping pills we give them) mixed with alcohol (sold on post) and motorcycles. Where does one draw the line?
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Old October 8, 2012, 06:57 PM   #4
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All privately owned weapons brought onto a US Army installation must be registered. Its been that way for many years. The US military does not register privately owned weapons kept off the installation by service emmbers.
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Old October 8, 2012, 07:26 PM   #5
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Why does no one ask why the suicide rate among troops has gone up. Seems like a better approach is to address the cause, rather than effect. It's like the increasing cancer rate or autism rate, nobody asks about the cause.
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Old October 8, 2012, 07:32 PM   #6
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pnac - your absolutely right of course. I recently came across a figure that I had never heard before. While its well known that there were 58,000 American deaths from the Vietnam War - - there were also 100,000 suicides associated with that conflict.

http://rense.com/general77/hdtage.htm

The current suicide levels are much higher than Vietnam.

This is not a political forum, but maybe its time to rethink our notions of 'national security'.

Instead, people seem to be more interested in wearing yellow, pink, and other various color ribbons instead of getting to the heart of these matters.

P.S. - related to the OP. Check into the rates that active combat troops are prescribed various psychiatric drugs today. It'll shock you. In the past if you were on them, you were discharged from the service. Now the military gives them to our troops.

Last edited by Pointshoot; October 8, 2012 at 07:42 PM.
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Old October 8, 2012, 08:25 PM   #7
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Quote:
Why does no one ask why the suicide rate among troops has gone up. Seems like a better approach is to address the cause, rather than effect.
Bingo!!!

i'm an Army retiree. i know dozens of young veterans and military troops who have PTSD and/or Traumatic Brain Injury. Yep, some have both. The US military prefers to violate the Second Amendment rights of the troops instead of providing adequate treatment.




Quote:
P.S. - related to the OP. Check into the rates that active combat troops are prescribed various psychiatric drugs today. It'll shock you. In the past if you were on them, you were discharged from the service. Now the military gives them to our troops.
Bingo, Again!!

A good article:

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011...otropic-drugs/

One of the drugs the US Army uses is triazolam; aka Halcion: An alleged aid to sleeping. The VA gave me Halcion. i had all the side effects listed at the second link plus a desire to commit murder.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/1838326/US-Army-Formulary


http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0000809/

Quote:

you should know that your mental health may change in unexpected ways while you are taking this medication. It is hard to tell if these changes are caused by triazolam or if they are caused by physical or mental illnesses that you already have or suddenly develop. Tell your doctor right away if you experience any of the following symptoms: aggressiveness, strange or unusually outgoing behavior, hallucinations (seeing things or hearing voices that do not exist), feeling as if you are outside of your body, memory problems, difficulty concentrating, slowed speech or movements, new or worsening depression, thinking about killing yourself, confusion, and any other changes in your usual thoughts, mood, or behavior. Be sure that your family knows which symptoms may be serious so that they can call the doctor if you are unable to seek treatment on your own.

Last edited by thallub; October 8, 2012 at 09:12 PM.
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Old October 8, 2012, 09:52 PM   #8
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The US military does not register privately owned weapons kept off the installation by service emmbers.
Not universally true.

In most of the cases where potentially suicidal members have their access to weapons restricted, I think the intent is their well-being. That's not to say that this policy or others like it couldn't have some bad spin-offs or side-effects. I've seen some darn restrictive policies at one AFB (including contradictory policies).
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Old October 9, 2012, 09:21 AM   #9
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While a look at causes is of course useful, that doesn't mean a preventive action when you have clear indications of risk isn't also useful.

The devil will be in the details and not letting prevention become ideological.
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Old October 9, 2012, 10:04 AM   #10
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I apologize if I sound cold, but...if someone wants to kill himself/herself, they will find a way to make it happen. The question is, if someone is planning/considering/voicing their intention to do so, does the governing authority (I.e. commanders, city officials, state and local government, federal government) have the right to deny the right to keep and bear arms--or any other rights--to the suicidal? That is the question that must be answered.

After that, people, realize the truth that has been stated a million times: guns don't kill people; people kill people. If a military person is considering killing or harming himself/herself, current army policy is that anyone and everyone has the obligation to do absolutely anything to stop that action. This includes anything from talking with the person, to taking them to a counsellor (such as another soldier or Chaplain), and permits a fellow soldier to use physical force to stop them from hurting themselves or other soldiers. Bottom line: in the army, it is a crime to kill, or attempt to kill one's self. If the crime is successful, punishment is carried out in the form of denial of post-mortem benefits. If it is not successful, punishment is carried out in various forms such as denial of the ability to carry or handle weapons (personal or government property), denial of the right to be unsupervised at any or all times, and so forth.

It's not widely known, but suicide is still technically a felony in most states. It falls under the category of murder as defined as one person willfully choosing to end the life of a human being. I believe in this law because I believe suicide to be the most unnatural act a human being can devise. That said, compassion demands that we try to understand, and thus prevent first and future attempts of our fellow human beings to do this to themselves.

I am a soldier, and I have to live with the memory of a fellow soldier I knew in Iraq that decided to kill himself two years ago. Sometimes, I blame myself for not seeing the signs and stopping him, but through talking with counsellors, I have come to realize that I cannot ultimately control everyone.

Taking away someone's right to a gun will not prevent them from violent crime. Whether against themselves, or others.
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Old October 9, 2012, 12:13 PM   #11
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legal issues/2A rights/veterans...

As posted, from what I know, US service members have limited access to their own firearms/ammunition per unit/CO SOP(company or unit policy).

Now, not every GI follows the rules, , but if a service member is on any medications(which I'd heard approx 28% of combat veterans/active duty troops are) then special concern should be given to them to avoid tragic events like spree shootings(FT Hood Texas) or suicides.
Suicides in the active duty military is not uncommon. While I was deployed to RP(Panama) in the early 1990s, a 0-3/CPT in the US Army(Ordnance Corps) shot himself.


What I personally disagree with is for veterans with mental health issues(PTSD, bi-polar, depression, etc) buying or carrying firearms with special exceptions or policies in some states. I've seen a few articles about the topic.
To me, you can't be "crazy" or "unstable" when you feel like it or "some" of the time. You either have a mental health disorder or you dont. You shouldnt get 100% disability or soc security then say you want a concealed license/firearm.
Common sense & reasoning should be a part of it somewhere.
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Old October 9, 2012, 12:29 PM   #12
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As a service member who had PTSD and who's best friend killed themself from PTSD by shooting himself, I must say I'm ok with removing firearms or all arms for that matter while under going treatment. I've said in another post that it is way too easy to end your life with a gun. All you need is to be depressed and pull the trigger. There is no physical pain while you pull the trigger, but as soon as you do its lights out. Other methods (cutting, hanging, come to mind) have time between the action and death. There is physical pain/feeling that one feels before death. Those seconds could allow the suicidal service member 2nd thoughts and stop what they are doing. But with a gun, there is no time for second thoughts after you pull the trigger.

Look I'm as pro-2nd amend as the next guy on this board but when talking about military personnel, they are not your normal citizens. Once we signed that paper, we forfeit some of our rights. Freedom of Speech, Search and Seizure, etc. Now I'm not saying you forfeit all of said right, but you are more restricted than a normal citizen. Service members, at least in today's age, volunteer to go into combat and expose themselves to the horrors of human nature, then they are expected to come back to a civilized society and blend right back into the populace. It doesn't work like that. They need help, they need counseling. I'm for mandatory counseling of troops coming back from deployment but that is a different argument.

But when someone is diagnosed with PTSD and are suicidal, all measures need to be taken to prevent them committing suicide while going through counseling. If they can delay the person for enough time for the counseling to take effect, they may be able to save a life. If the service member still has that easy means of committing suicide by shooting themselves, they can still attempt suicide while under counseling. The idea is to delay the service member until the counseling takes effect and get them to realize that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem . The military has the obligation to prevent every death possible.


Also, PTSD is a mental illness/disability. I find it pretty hypocritical that some members of this board are all for preventing the mentally ill from obtaining firearms but when it comes to service members with PTSD, its an infringement of their RTBA. For the time before and during treatment, these service members are mentally disabled.



Here is what I wrote in another thread:

Quote:
Although I agree questions about guns should be kept off medical forms, I do think there is an exception; veterans seeking help for PTSD. When I went to get checked out, they asked if I had an firearms and I said yes. The nurse asked if there was a friend or family member I could "surrender" it to until the completion of my Theropy or the doctor says otherwise. It wasn't a "you have to do this or else" but a recommendation. I gave my pistol to my mom to hold on to (and thus breaking the law in Kennesaw, GA). I never thought about suicide or being homicidal but I understand the precaution.

My theorist asked me one session what are my hobbies that are also stress relievers. I told her shooting and firearms. Said I find cleaning guns very theroputic (no I will not clean you guys' guns). She said she thought I should retreive my gun from my mom's house. And thus, my addiction began

OTOH, my best friend that i was in Iraq with (saw all the same action, etc) went to the hospital for PTSD and more or less the same story (he actually got me into firearms). He began reloading and was out shooting every weekend. He became a teacher and loved it. Life was good until his mom walked into the bathroom and found that he had shot himself in the head.

Now I added the last part not for sympathy or to say we could have prevented it by taking away his guns, etc. If he wanted it to happen he would have found a way for it to happen. What I'm saying is I understand the precaution with veterans with PTSD and firearms. It is just too easy to find that final solution for a temporary problem with the emotional squeeze of a trigger.
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Old October 9, 2012, 01:05 PM   #13
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Just a quick note:

Quote:
Originally Posted by cannonfire View Post
Once we signed that paper, we forfeit some of our rights. Freedom of Speech, Search and Seizure, etc.
This is incorrect. Service members from all branches do no relieve themselves of US Constitutional rights when agreeing to serve. They merely accept different expectations and consequences for the use and abuse of those rights. There is no DoD, DA, or AR relieving a soldier, airman, seaman, or marine of their freedom of speech or protection from unlawful searches and seizures.

But perhaps this is a topic for another thread.
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Old October 9, 2012, 01:40 PM   #14
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For myself I firmly believe that some of the PTSD is a direct result on the feelings of being powerless and defenseless due to the Rules of Engagement and the general unwillingness of some commands to treat troops as adults that can be trusted with rounds...

I think it raises the overall level of anxiety and when situations happen and you have squat to react with it builds stress... Repeating situations in this circumstance I believe accounts for some of the PTSD.
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Old October 9, 2012, 02:34 PM   #15
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Quote:
As a service member who had PTSD and who's best friend killed themselves from PTSD by shooting himself, I must say I'm ok with removing firearms or all arms for that matter while under going treatment. I've said in another post that it is way too easy to end your life with a gun.
Thank you for your service to our country.

The death rate due to suicide among our troops exceed that of combat causalities. The military really does not know “the answer” to get it down, but it is trying.

I would like to get all the troops home and get them out of the cycle of continuous deployments to endless, pointless, profitless wars.

I think that might help, but it will require a couple of more Presidential cycles.
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Old October 9, 2012, 03:07 PM   #16
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Quote:
Just a quick note:

Quote:
Originally Posted by cannonfire View Post
Once we signed that paper, we forfeit some of our rights. Freedom of Speech, Search and Seizure, etc.
This is incorrect. Service members from all branches do no relieve themselves of US Constitutional rights when agreeing to serve. They merely accept different expectations and consequences for the use and abuse of those rights. There is no DoD, DA, or AR relieving a soldier, airman, seaman, or marine of their freedom of speech or protection from unlawful searches and seizures.
ok now look at the very next sentence that I wrote

Quote:
Now I'm not saying you forfeit all of said right, but you are more restricted than a normal citizen.
How about barracks inspections? Do they need a warrant to enter there? No.

Can you go to a protest wearing anything that has military affiliation to it? Even T-shirts? No.

Can you speak out against the President of the United States? No. Ask that Marine Sgt who got discharged.


You absolutely volunteer to restrict a portion of your rights in order to serve the military.

But yes, that is a different topic for a different thread and probably not on this board.
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Old October 9, 2012, 03:18 PM   #17
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It is worth bearing in mind what a difficult thing killing yourself can be for many people, both those who succeed and fail. Many try multiple times. Many suicidal people end up surviving, coming through it and living long and happy lives because when they were at their worst the practicality of actually doing it was too much. For a condition like PTSD, where for most people there is every chance of effective treatment (in theory I mean, since in practice it is very often inadequate) if they survive long enough to let it work, denying access to an easy means of suicide can save the suffering individual's life.

Cutting is agonisingly painful (so I am assured by a close family member with Type 2 Bipolar Affective Disorder who tried and failed to kill themselves using this method), and even if someone does it exactly ''right'' really isn't that quick. Pain is scary.

ODing - can be fairly straightforward, but not for the majority of people who end up using prescription drugs and over the counter pain meds. It is often a prolonged experience that requires commitment to ending your own life over quite a length of time, while you munch down all those drugs your brain has time to work. Maybe you go through with it, maybe you don't, maybe you call the emergency services and get your stomach pumped.

Hanging is extremely easy to botch and often requires very active preparation, again representing the same psychological barriers (or protections) as ODing often does.

Obviously there are endless other ways a person can kill themselves, but the point is, none of it is easy to actually do.

Shooting yourself in the head is about as sure and as quick as you can get. It can happen in the time it takes to pick up a gun and put it to your head. A person can brood on it for days, weeks, months, years without ever taking an active step towards making it happen until the very moment they decide - gun up, trigger pulled, dead. Doesn't work like that for other methods, generally.

On that, purely practical level, denying a suicidal person access to firearms can be a life saver, particularly when it comes to illnesses that have definite environmental causes/triggers, like PTSD, where there is an excellent chance decent treatment will repair some of the damage. Alas, studies have shown that rates of gun ownership in a place have little effect on overall suicide rates, as many people simply exercise substitution, and kill themselves another way. The point I am trying to make is that when you are dealing with people who are likely to represent a suicide risk for a relatively brief period (in comparison to someone with a natural brain imbalance that puts them at risk for life), keeping guns out of easy reach can be the difference between life and death and might have a statistical impact that does not exist in the wider population.

No idea what the implications of that are for the broader issue of 2A and soldiers with PTSD - just thought I would give my point of view.
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Old October 9, 2012, 05:15 PM   #18
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Quote:
I would like to get all the troops home and get them out of the cycle of continuous deployments to endless, pointless, profitless wars.
For myself I do not find what I did for my nation as being pointless. I will leave it at this as not to skew into forum weeds. I dont think (with few exceptions) most veterans that have fought would agree with you that it was pointless.

Enemies dont become less dangerous just because you abandon a area or state...

As for PTSD I have a close friend who I served with for many years who is completely a different person because of it... He apparently walked into mortar fire to help a iraqi citizen... not ran but walked...
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Old October 9, 2012, 06:39 PM   #19
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Old October 9, 2012, 07:36 PM   #20
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Just because you are undergoing treatment for PTSD or Depression doesn't mean you are going to do violence to yourself or others.
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Old October 10, 2012, 10:51 AM   #21
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Of course, with proper oversight, appeals procedures and decisions taken on a case by case basis is the only way such things can reasonably happen.

Most people with mental health issues are no more likely than anybody else to pose a threat to themselves or others.
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Old October 10, 2012, 02:41 PM   #22
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Run your car head-on into a semi. Jump off a bridge or tall building. Or if the soldier is intent on using a gun, buy another one off base legally or illegally. Taking away the guns they already have probably isn't going to be any more than a temporary inconvenience if they are determined to do it.

If there are indications that they are in that severe state of mind, perhaps they should be institutionalized until they are healthy.
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Old October 10, 2012, 03:39 PM   #23
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The point is that if you detect suicidal ideation, you can slow them down for intervention. Having a firearm easily accessible may be dangerous.

If you do take guns and do nothing, yep -they can find another means.

It's not a black and white situation.
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Old October 10, 2012, 03:55 PM   #24
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I have known six people, I think, who committed suicide. Five used a gun. The other didn't. I've also known one murder victim; shot in bed while asleep.
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Old October 10, 2012, 09:14 PM   #25
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I will preface this post with stating that I platoon mate of mine decided he had all that he could take and took his own life. Yes, he used a handgun. He was truly the last casualty of our unit form our deployment. I was depply affected by this and still wonder what else we, being those of us who knew him in the civillian world, could have done.

Further more, after I returned from my deployment, I underwent a brief, I mean very brief, pyscological screening. It was a very short questionnaire and a ten minute chat with an Army contract psycologist.

I was pinged for being at risk of suffering from PTSD.

I answered that yes I drank for than twice a week(I'm in college, did that before deployment) and that yes I sometimes had problems sleeping. And ebcause of that they recommended for me to seek counseling at the local VA hospital.

What worries me is that I am perfectly adjusted, yes, I still drink, and yes I still have nightmares, but that doesn't mean my rights should be abridges, especially since I'm now just an individual reservist now.

It all smacks of setting a dangerous precendent to me.
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