The third book in the Friend Grief series is about friends who live and work together, and the military figures prominently in it. I’ve been learning a lot lately about the epidemic of suicide among active duty military and veterans, in the US and UK.
As I’ve explained in recent posts, there are a number of contributing factors: multiple deployments, inadequate screening for pre-existing mental health issues, substance abuse, grief for their comrades and survivor guilt.
Sunday’s program opened with “The Life and Death of Clay Hunt”, and it is as haunting a tale as you will ever see: a young man who struggled with grief and guilt after watching his friends die in combat. A young man who found meaning in his work with Team Rubicon, he still couldn’t rid himself of the demons and ultimately took his own life.
When I watched this video, it was clear that survivor guilt was not only limited to Clay Hunt: it weighs down on his parents and friends as well.
What possible good could come from the telling of this story? Awareness, for one: more active duty military committed suicide than died in Afghanistan last year. And hopefully action: on the part of our governments (for this is not limited to American military), our medical establishment, the military itself, and the general public.
This is not going away any time soon. These men and women deserve better than to act on the belief that they are better off dead.