News Details

AUDIO: Beyond the battlefield: suicide, PTSD, and ‘moral injury’

By: WHITNEY MCKNIGHT, Clinical Psychiatry News Digital Network

Source: Clinical Psychiatry News
Published: Thursday 17 April, 2014

Military suicide rates for never-deployed service members now surpass rates for those who have been in-country. Is one of the reasons because veterans who’ve served don’t make the time to help welcome new recruits into the fold, leaving them to feel isolated and not a part of the mission?

"The Army itself has been on a very high operations tempo. Troops are deploying all the time. They’re tired," says Col. Elspeth Cameron Ritchie, U.S. Army retired, and a former Army psychiatrist. "When a new solder joins a unit, [he or she] may not be welcomed in the same way as [a soldier] might have been in the past."

But, does the military attract people who are already predisposed to mental health issues, including suicidal ideation? And while most servicemen and -women are sound of mind and body when they start out, if they do encounter mental health issues, many don’t seek the help that is available to them.

In this audio interview, Dr. Ritchie explains why this may be the case, and examines the role stigma does – or doesn’t – play in addressing mental health issues in the military. She also defines what is only now beginning to receive recognition as a factor in posttraumatic stress disorder: moral injury, or the effects of having to kill on order.

Dr. Ritchie also discussed how PTSD entered our lexicon and what utility the diagnosis has for nonservice members.

Original Article