The increase in suicide rates among veterans frightens and reveals the magnitude of mental challenges experienced by the group. The most worrying aspect of Clay Hunt’s interview was the revelation that 22 veterans die daily from suicide (CBS News, 2013). Unfortunately, many recruits to the army fit the profile of people who are likely to commit suicide after serving (Gradus et al., 2013). Gradus et al. (2013) contend that such people as Clay Hunt, with a rough childhood and exacting adulthood, are most likely to commit suicide. Regrettably, Hunt’s life after serving was equally uneasy, and the lack of purpose may have contributed to his death; however, as the parents admit, much more could have been done to help prevent his death (CBS News, 2013). The increase in suicide rates among veterans points to the rise in mental health issues and highlights the neglect by stakeholders, whose failures cause people such as Clay Hunt to commit suicide.
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The ways to help veterans with suicidal ideations include easing their transition to civilian culture, offering free mental health services, and giving their lives a purpose or meaning. Undoubtedly, the experiences of deployment to war zones can create lasting psychological and physical challenges. For veterans, the need to have an easy transition to civilian life cannot be reiterated. As Clay explained, travelling to Haiti to help victims of the tsunami and joining the cycling team evoked a sense of purpose and offered his life a meaning (CBS News, 2013).
However, financial challenges and the lack of adequate mental health assistance worsened his mental state. Denneson et al. (2015) claim that suicidal ideation among veterans results from an onerous “military culture, difficult deployment experiences, and post-deployment adjustment challenges” (p. 399). Nonetheless, the military could borrow the recommendations by Metzner and Hayes (2006) and train its personnel to address mental health issues, conduct screening during intakes and continuous assessments, and effectively communicate about suicide. Indeed, addressing these stressors can reduce the prevalence of suicide.
The prevalence of suicide among veterans has been on the rise following difficulties of adjusting to civilian life, lack of sense of self and purpose, and a myriad of issues that include financial difficulties. For people such as Clay Hunt, these stressors cause their lives to spiral after developing mental health issues. In this view, there is a need to provide aid to veterans and assist their transition to normalcy by offering mental health services and helping them find a purpose.
CBS News. (2013). The life and death of Clay Hunt [Video]. YouTube.
Denneson, L. M., Teo, A. R., Ganzini, L., Helmer, D. A., Bair, M. J., & Dobscha, S. K. (2015). Military veterans’ experiences with suicidal ideation: Implications for intervention and prevention. Suicide and Life‐Threatening Behavior, 45(4), 399-414.
Gradus, J. L., Shipherd, J. C., Suvak, M. K., Giasson, H. L., & Miller, M. (2013). Suicide attempts and suicide among Marines: A decade of follow‐up. Suicide and Life‐Threatening Behavior, 43(1), 39-49.
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Metzner, J. L., & Hayes, L. M. (2006). Suicide prevention in jails and prisons. In R. I. Simon & R. E. Hales (Eds.), Textbook of Suicide Assessment 7 and Management (pp. 139-155). American Psychiatric Publishing.