Freedom Isn't Free

Freedom Isn't Free

19 August 2014

A Tough Post

   I've wanted to write this blog for some time now.  In reality, I've wanted to write this post for years.  Also in reality, I've dreaded writing this post.  It's a tough one to write.  It's a tough post to deal with the subject.  The subject is Veteran suicide and I know a Veteran who committed suicide.  That's why it's hard to write this post.  It's not like I was best friends with him, but that doesn't matter.  Suicide, by it's nature, is somewhat taboo in normal everyday society.  It's not really reported on in the media.  Most newspapers won't run a story about an individual committing suicide.  The only exceptions are murder suicides (which are increasing) and suicide by cop (doing something to harm someone else so a police officer will kill you). 
   As I said above, suicide is somewhat taboo in normal civilian society.  In the Veteran society it's safe to say talking about is taboo.  Thinking about it is more common than you would think in the Veteran community.  That's two things that should change.  We Veterans should talk about suicide.  We should talk to someone if we ever think about committing suicide.  That's one of the missions of  It's called the Spartan Pledge and the basic gist of the pledge is to call your battle buddy first before you try to commit suicide.  Talking about it to someone else can help you see through the dark spot you are in and help you realize that suicide is never the answer

   22 Everyday.  Despite it not being a good answer EVER, approximately 22 Veterans commit suicide everyday.  Think about that for a moment.  within one week more than 100 Veterans end their own lives.  That number is horrendous.  Last week, Robin Williams committed suicide.  He was a tremendous supporter of the USO and, of course, he was very big celebrity.  Think about if 22 celebrities committed suicide in just one week.  There would be a lot more news coverage of it, and that is part of the problem.  Pop culture celebrates those who sing or swing a baseball bat well.  What about the Veteran who has just come back from Afghanistan?  He survived a war zone.  To me, that's an achievement beyond a .374 batting average or being able to have a top 40 chart topping song. 
   OK, I know I can't change how everyone feels about A-Rod(who had to take drugs to perform better than other baseball players) or Kanye West (who is famous for what I am still trying to figure out), but I hope I can help change the way people look and act and deal with suicide, especially as it pertains to Veterans.  I teach suicide prevention where I work and I want to dispel one major myth.  You cannot talk someone into committing suicide.  There.  I said it.  If you mention suicide it will not make someone do it.  It can only help someone not do it. 
   While there are no definite symptoms of suicide, here is a list of warning signs for Veterans (taken from the Veterans Crisis line website):

·        Appearing sad or depressed most of the time

·        Clinical depression: deep sadness, loss of interest, trouble sleeping and eating—that doesn’t go away or continues to get worse

·        Feeling anxious, agitated, or unable to sleep

·        Neglecting personal welfare, deteriorating physical appearance

·        Withdrawing from friends, family, and society, or sleeping all the time

·        Losing interest in hobbies, work, school, or other things one used to care about

·        Frequent and dramatic mood changes

·        Expressing feelings of excessive guilt or shame

·        Feelings of failure or decreased performance

·        Feeling that life is not worth living, having no sense of purpose in life

·        Talk about feeling trapped—like there is no way out of a situation

·        Having feelings of desperation, and saying that there’s no solution to their problems
Their behavior may be dramatically different from their normal behavior, or they may appear to be actively contemplating or preparing for a suicidal act through behaviors such as:
·        Performing poorly at work or school
·        Acting recklessly or engaging in risky activities—seemingly without thinking
·        Showing violent behavior such as punching holes in walls, getting into fights or self-destructive violence; feeling rage or uncontrolled anger or seeking revenge
·        Looking as though one has a “death wish,” tempting fate by taking risks that could lead to death, such as driving fast or running red lights
·        Giving away prized possessions
·        Putting affairs in order, tying up loose ends, and/or making out a will
·        Seeking access to firearms, pills, or other means of harming oneself
      The Veterans Crisis Line can be accessed here or you can call 1800 273 8255 and press 1.  You can also text them at 838255.  If you go to their website you can even chat with someone. 
   And don't think that there is an age where a Veteran might be contemplating suicide.  According to a news article in Stripes ( more and more younger Veterans are contemplating it as well as older Veterans.  You can check out that article here. 
   In closing, I want to thank and one of my friends on twitter @chilioffthegrid in helping me write this post.  This won't be the last time I broach this topic, and I hope that I can help even if it's just one life saved.  Because every Veteran's life is a life that deserves to be lived to the fullest.
That is all.


The 7th Annual SGT Jan Argonish Ride is going to be held on 7 September 2014.  For more information please visit the website.


  1. Citizen Soldier, I just wrote about this, from a civvie's point of view, and I am SO grateful you wrote this. It IS a hard subject to write, but unfortunately it's one that has to get more mention. If the mainstream media won't, it's up to those who know it from experience to do it.

    That said, even after studying the statistics myself the past couple of years, when you just wrote, " within one week more than 100 Veterans end their own lives" Just pierced my heart all over again. I pray more people will finally wake up to this tragedy.
    Thank you.

  2. Well done, my friend. Keep up the great work.

  3. Thank you for this article. Lots of folks need to see it.

  4. GoldStarMom :TY and GBU for writing...I have been trying to get the word out, it will be 3 yrs on Oct 3... IF I CAN ADD.... ESPECIALLY SINCE I TAKE SUICIDE PERSONALLY BECAUSE OF THE DEATH OF MY SOLDIER DAUGHTER ON ACTIVE DUTY:
    "You cannot only not talk someone into or out of committing suicide because they cannot "commit" suicide. They could not "commit" a physical health issue and they cannot "commit" a mental health issue..."Commit" is more of a criminal word since the perpetrator and the victim are the same person in a no-win situation the determination therefore needs to be on more compassion to the friends and families left behind to cope with public stigma and take the criminal aspect completely out of the situation because someone who dies from suicide is not in their right mind. They die of depression which is a disease. They die of complete and utter hopelessness and sadness!"

  5. I meant to add this link my Quotes are in article that goes into more depth on you do NOT "commit" suicide, and how victims families live with the STIGMA, which I promised my late soldier daughter, Sgt. Kimberly Agar, I would bring awareness to eliminate STIGMA..