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Relationship breakups may trigger suicidal thoughts

By Maria Gallegos | Brooke Army Medical Center Public Affairs | Aug. 30, 2012

JBSA-FORT SAM HOUSTON — Recognizing the warning signs of suicide can help save lives, but sometimes this alone is not enough.

Some common indicators of suicide are depression, substance abuse (drugs and alcohol), financial distress and unexpected or uncharacteristic rage or anger.

However, the majority of service members who have taken their lives are found to have had recent failed personal relationships, according to Lt. Col. Marshal Smith, deputy chief for Department of Behavioral Health at San Antonio Military Medical Center.

"Sometimes warning signs are not so obvious and some may not show any signs of needing help," Smith said.

"But if your buddy comes to you with a situation such as, 'My wife or girlfriend cheated on me' - how would you react?"

He said relationship breakups could have a devastating impact on a person who is left feeling empty, guilty, shameful, angry, or distracted.

"Most of the time, friends don't realize a failed relationship can lead to a suicide," he added.

"Soldiers would tell me after they lost their friend that they didn't realize the risk behind a failed relationship and how that could have led in them killing themselves."

Smith recommends the best course of action is not to leave the friend alone and to also ask him or her directly if they are thinking about killing themselves or others.

"Listen, be direct, and be honest," he said. "If we can get people to ask this simple question and get help, we may be able to lessen the numbers of suicides in the military."

If you suspect of someone hurting themselves, take them to the nearest emergency room -- it is the beginning process to receive the help they need, Smith said.

Suicide can be prevented. Every suicide is an unnecessary death and asking the right questions and willingness to listen can make the difference in saving someone's life.
For more information about suicide prevention, call BAMC Behavioral Health at 808-2565 or click on one of the following websites:

· MilitaryOneSource at http://www.militaryonesource.com, 1-800-342-9647

· National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org, 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

· Veteran Crisis Line, http://veteranscrisisline.net, 1-800-273-TALK (8255), then press 1.