To all my colleagues, I want to express my heartfelt condolences and I know we all do, to the families of the people we lost last week. My prayers and thoughts are with them.
Like all of you, I've had the privilege of working with service people and veterans across our country. I've heard their stories: a veteran living for 10 years in the bush; receiving a suicide note from a veteran on Sunday afternoon and having to find help; having to find a veteran lost in a snowstorm because no psychiatrist appointment was coming for three months despite a diagnosis of PTSD for years and years; not hearing from a veteran for weeks and waiting for him to re-emerge from the darkness of his basement; receiving a note from a veteran distraught because a young friend was found dead on the roadside and another dead in the basement, both of whom had simply stopped living, had given up eating and taking their medication. I will share these comments and again, my condolences to the families.
This is what I hear from our country's extraordinary heroes in their desperation: “We are all suffering and we need help. It's not only guys we lose overseas, it's the guys we lose here to suicide. They may as well have died overseas. We have all contemplated it, the thoughts are relentless. When I contemplate suicide, it is a relief. It means stopping the pain, no more fights with that. The question we ask ourselves is how can we leave and leave our family in a better position. Everyone else is better without us.” This is from a physician who veterans call the “Guardian Angel”, “They are hurting, their families are hurting. Many wives have contacted me. They are afraid to stay with them. They are afraid of them and for them.”
I'm wondering if you can share in a broad sense, the symptoms that the people you treat are suffering from. What does their life look like and what should we be doing?