PTSD and Suicide Prevention

More than 1,000 of our nation’s service members attempted suicide in 2013.Many of those service men and women suffer or have suffered from a mental health disorder called Post -Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Today marks the start of a nationwide campaign launched to promote awareness during September, which is suicide awareness month.
News 25 spoke with a Vietnam veteran who tells his story of trauma and the continuous road to recovery.
In 1966, Thomas Siesner was serving our country in Vietnam when an underwater mine blew the very bridge he was working on to bits. “We lost two on that bridge alone,” said Siesner, “a couple others got shot and killed over there.”
Nearly 50 years later, Siesner still suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, a psychiatric disorder that follows experiencing or witnessing a life threatening or traumatizing event. “I’m still scared to go over bridges, I don’t know if I’ll make it to the other side,” Siesner said.
Siesner has learned to live with PTSD, but some don’t. According to a defense department report, 245 service members died by suicide in 2013, something VFW Post 2434 Commander James Corley says may have been prevented had they sought out help. “We’re finding that more and more people are better off if they can come to therapy and talk these things out and be able to bring the ghost of the past out in a controlled environment,” said Corley.
According to the PTSD Foundation of America, 1 in 3 returning troops suffer from the mental health disorder, but PTSD is not limited to just military. Anyone who has lived through trauma can experience PTSD such as sexual assault victims, accident survivors, and storm victims. “You see pictures of your city that’s completely destroyed, it brings back these memories. You go back into this situation where you’re fighting for your life,” said Corley.
Corley says to watch out for signs of PTSD, like reclusiveness. “If they threaten, if they, number one, have a weapon, bring help to this person because that’s when you can nip these things in the bud before it blossoms into a real situation.”
For more information on PTSD you can visit

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