In 2018, more than 48,000 Americans died by suicide, making it the 10th most common cause of death in the United States. More people took their own lives than died of hypertension or chronic liver disease.
For veterans, the risk of suicide is even higher. Male veterans die by suicide at a rate 1.5 higher than the civilian populations. Women veterans are more than twice as likely to die by suicide. Each day, an average of 22 veterans commit suicide.
In September, we mark Suicide Prevention Month, a time to focus on the urgent need to bring effective treatments to those suffering mental health problems and contemplating ending their lives.
“Suicide is really about a loss of hope,” says Dr. Diego Hernandez, PsyD., a master Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART) practitioner. Hernandez has used ART to help many people, including veterans, who previously had been feeling suicidal due to untreated mental health issues.
For many veterans, untreated PTSD and trauma can lead to thoughts of suicide. The flashbacks, triggers and anxiety can grow unbearable. Some veterans feel a sense of stigma around mental health care or worry that they will lose their security clearance if they ask for help.
“People who run toward the gunfire, we see that other people need help, but we don’t think about ourselves needing help,” says Hernandez, who works extensively with traumatized veterans.
“When your identity is wrapped up in helping others, pushing through the tough stuff, you can reach this stress point where things have to change,” he said. “Many veterans come back to civilian life and have issues with alcohol or drugs, strained relationships with spouses, family or children because of untreated trauma.”
Dr. Hernandez uses ART to treat the physical, emotional and mental symptoms of PTSD. Unlike traditional talk therapy, ART does not require clients to recount details of troubling memories. And, also unlike traditional therapies, ART is proven to relieve the symptoms of PTSD in an average of four sessions. After people undergo ART, they still remember upsetting moments from their lives, but the emotional and physical triggers are gone.
“ART helps people process their painful memories before they experience that loss of hope,” said Hernandez. “I’ve treated many veterans who had been thinking about suicide and after they went through ART, they said they felt like they got their lives back again.”
ART is an innovative, evidence-based therapy for both PTS and PTSD, anxiety, depression, stress, and similar mental health issues. It works by reprogramming the traumatic memories that are preventing an individual from enjoying the full life they deserve. Contact ART International to learn more about the therapy or to find a therapist near you.
ART International Training and Research Inc., is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing access to Accelerated Resolution Therapy® for individuals suffering from trauma and other mental health diagnoses through innovative research and clinician training and education.