How Many Suicides Must Occur from PTSD?

by Jennifer Van Bergen

My veteran story is short. I had a friend I will call Mike, who was put in touch with me by a co-worker of his to whom he had confided about his PTSD as a result of his experiences in Vietnam. He also had severe back injuries which gave him constant and terrible pain.

Mike contacted me and I helped him out with information and support on PTSD. Post traumatic stress disorder is widely misunderstood and misdiagnosed. Doctors label it psychosomatic; the PTSD sufferer is thus caused more suffering. PTSD is a real disorder. It is caused by severe repeated trauma. It can result in dissociation (which can cause one to be unable to concentrate, to lose things, etc.), flashbacks, hyperarousal (extreme sensitivity to stimuli) and other symptoms which make it almost impossible to function.

It was difficult keeping in touch with Mike because he forgot a lot. I would write him and he wouldn't respond, and then he'd write later asking me how I was, as though he hadn't heard from me in a while. He always remembered that I had helped him.

Unfortunately, Mike committed suicide last year. I know he had had a really difficult time getting anyone to believe or understand his PTSD, let alone the physical pain he was experiencing. He felt betrayed by the government doctors.

I never met him in person, but I felt a great loss at his suicide and I'm angry at a country that fails to help people like Mike.


TRUE DEMOCRACY Spring 2002 Copyright © 2002 by News Source, Inc.