I am so honored to be able to introduce to you Jessica, the owner/writer at A Widow’s Promise. She is an unbelievably strong woman and an absolute inspiration in her faith. Her topic on prevention of suicide of military members is not only important but it is something she too familiar with.
My prayer is that her story reaches every single person that it needs to to help prevent the horrifying statistics on suicide and military veterans and active duty soldiers. Part 1 of her series is about recognizing the warning signs of suicidal thoughts in your military spouse and how to help them! And Part 2 will be her personal story on her experience with suicide.
I ask that you please share this as many times as possible so it can reach the right people before it is too late!
And now for Part 1….
Every day, approximately 22 veterans and one active duty soldier take their own lives. That is over 8,000 per year. That is over 130,000 since September 11th.
Let’s be honest…. no one wants to talk about death. We love to read articles on how to be a better Christian, how to have a better marriage, how to raise Christ-centered children…. but scroll across an article on death and immediately anxiety and fear begin to bubble up from inside of us.
If you are a military wife you know exactly what I am talking about!
Deployment leaves you with the fear and uncertainty of wondering if you will see your husband again…. Will the next knock on the door have two military members in uniform behind it, holding an American flag? The fear is there whether we choose to acknowledge it or not. However, no one is prepared for the moment when after welcoming their husband safely home, they find he has committed suicide…..
I hate this topic. It upsets me. It brings with it a flood of different emotions……
But the truth is ladies,
Your husbands deal with death A LOT! They have witnessed traumatic events in some of the most hostile environments while on deployment. They have seen their battle buddies fall down beside them, and have taken away other peoples lives with their own hands. A role that as Christian men they know is meant only for God. Asking them to take on this role without some kind of psychological and spiritual preparations can lead to damaging consequences.
Each soldier will react to the traumatic experiences they have experienced differently. Some may face emotional or psychological challenges such as anger, isolation, anxiety or guilt and these feelings will follow them home, which is why it is imperative you have prayed for a spirit of discernment. For some, these feelings may lead to more serious conditions, including depression and post traumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD. Both depression and PTSD can leave your husband feeling like there is no escape from the constant battle inside of their minds, ultimately leading them to have thoughts of suicide.
What You Can Do to Support Your Husband
- Create a schedule – Create a list of daily tasks and activities that need to be done. This will help your spouse stay busy and give them a visual reminder of their achievements.
- Implement healthy lifestyle changes- Make sure your spouse is eating a healthy diet by cooking foods that are rich in nutrients. Encourage your husband to exercise with you and make it fun! Yoga is a great relaxation technique and is a great way to reduce stress!
- Be Social- Get out of the house regularly! Have a date night or just go out with friends and family. By being social, your husband has less opportunity to isolate himself and be trapped with depression.
- Set Goals- Talk to your spouse about any personal and/or career goals they may have. The more they focus on the future and all the things they want to accomplish, the less they will feel like there’s no reason to keep going.
- Pray and read the Bible together- Here is your NON-NEGOTIABLE! Nothing protects your husband more then by covering him in prayer. Pray for him, focus on God’s promises by reading encouraging and uplifting scripture, and let God do the rest!
This is the part where praying for a spirit of discernment comes in handy. While you and your family go about your day to day life stay alert to the following warning signs:
- Thinking about hurting or killing himself
- Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide
- Unable to sleep or oversleeping
- Withdrawing from friends, family or society
- Increasing alcohol or drug use
- Engaging in reckless or risky behavior
- Experiencing excessive rage, anger or desire for revenge
- Having feelings of anxiety, agitation or hopelessness
- Reliving past stressful experiences
- Experiencing dramatic changes in mood
If you have noticed your husband is displaying some of these signs, it isn’t a guarantee he is feeling suicidal, so don’t freak out, he may just be dealing with depression. But take the lead by using the A.C.E. framework below.
How to Help Your Husband
It can be difficult to know what to do if you think your husband may be considering suicide. The ACE (Ask, Care, Escort) framework developed by U.S. Army Public Health Command is a great place to start!
ASK your warrior about suicidal thoughts
- Have the courage to ask if your warrior is having thoughts of suicide, but stay calm.
- Ask the question directly: Are you thinking of killing yourself?
- Know the signs for concern listed above.
CARE for your warrior
- Stay calm and safe — do not use force.
- Understand that your loved one may be in pain.
- Remove any objects or tools that pose a danger to your warrior.
- Actively listen for details about what, where and when your warrior may be planning to kill himself or herself.
- Be non-judgmental as you listen, which can help produce relief for the warrior.
ESCORT your warrior to get help
- Escort your warrior immediately to his or her chaplain or behavioral health professional.
- Call 911 or the Military Crisis Line at 800-273-TALK and press 1 to speak with a trained professional right away.
- Don’t keep your warrior’s suicidal behavior a secret.
- Never leave your warrior alone — stay until he/she receives appropriate help.
- Adopting an attitude that you are going to help your loved one may save his or her life.
No warrior or military family is alone. If you are concerned that a service member or veteran in your family is considering hurting or killing him or herself, free resources are available to help your family in this time of crisis. To get help for someone immediately, call the Military Crisis Line at 800-273-TALK (8255) and press 1.
The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.
Let’s talk! What questions or concerns do you have about suicide prevention or deployment? Which of these support measures are you going to put into place at your home? Make sure to leave me a comment below and share this post with others!
About the Author:
This post was written by Jessica Loncareivc, the widow behind “A Widows Promise” A Widow’s Promise is a Christ-centered blog and community that offers grief support for both widows and their families. Jessica has a special love for our military members. Not only did she meet her husband in the Army National Guard but she served alongside him as a 92A Logistics Specialist.
As a widow, Jessica understands the impact this kind of loss has on the woman left behind. “I became a widow at 28 years old, 6 months after marrying my best friend. While I don’t consider myself a “military widow” (for reasons I discuss on my blog) as a former solider, I do understand the sacrifices of both our military members and their families. I also understand the pain a widow goes through when she finds out she has lost the love of her life and no widow should have to go through that experience alone.”
A Widows Promise offers multiple tools and resources for widows ranging from grief support groups to bible studies. All of which focus on Gods promises and aid in the emotional healing necessary to start the next chapter of their lives.
Be sure to head over to A Widow’s Promise to learn more about Jessica and her beautiful ministry.
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