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Family Matters Blog: Blogger Urges Readers to 'Restore Hope'

By Heather Forsgren Weaver
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 9, 2010 – Heather Forsgren Weaver of American Forces Press Service is a regular contributor to Family Matters. Heather's been heavily involved in this blog from the start. She edits, helps write and posts content on a daily basis.

In this blog, Heather writes about the AFPS Web special report, "Restoring Hope: You Can Help Save A Life."

Remembering a Friend, Restoring Hope

It was a sunny June morning in 2001 when I got the phone call. "Jared's dead. He shot himself." Jared was my brother in every sense except blood. Even almost a decade later, it still seems unreal that he's gone.

I thought of Jared while reading stories in the American Forces Press Service Web special report "Restoring Hope: You Can Help Save A Life." In these stories, servicemembers share the despair they felt and how they sought and received help. Army Capt. Emily Stehr, for example, talks about how she asked for help after she found herself envying the dead as she walked her cousin's dog past a cemetery and realized those buried there were at peace.

The military has seen a rise in suicides since 2001. In fiscal year 2009, 160 soldiers took their own lives, while there were more than 1,700 attempted suicides. (See the AFPS article "Army Releases Suicide Report, Prevention Recommendations.")

The Restoring Hope special was launched in recognition of Suicide Prevention Month as a way to encourage people to act to prevent someone or even themselves from committing suicide. In addition to servicemembers' stories, the site offers advice on how to recognize symptoms of depression, withdrawal, hopelessness and other signals that may warn someone is considering suicide. 

"People have to be bold and step in.... You can't just passively sit and watch this happen," said U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who is quoted in the special report.

While Jared was not a member of the military, I wish we – or someone -- had seen the warning signs.

Here's a list of some of the warning signals to watch for:

-- Threatening to hurt or kill oneself or talking about wanting to hurt or kill oneself;

-- Looking for ways to kill oneself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means;

-- Talking or writing about death, dying, or suicide when these actions are out of the ordinary for the person;

-- Feeling hopeless;

-- Feeling rage or uncontrolled anger or seeking revenge;

-- Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities - seemingly without thinking;

-- Feeling trapped - like there's no way out;

-- Increasing alcohol or drug use;

-- Withdrawing from friends, family, and society;

-- Feeling anxious, agitated, or unable to sleep or sleeping all the time;

-- Experiencing dramatic mood changes; and/or

-- Seeing no reason for living or having no sense of purpose in life.

If you or someone you know has any of these warning signs, you can contact the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

The Restoring Hope special report includes stories of perseverance to help give you the knowledge to help save a life.

I hope you find it as inspiring as I did.

To comment on this blog, please visit the Family Matters blog.

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