Addressing stress-related trauma in military personnel – (Final part)

 According to the Minis­try of Defence, India ev­ery third day a soldier is committing suicide, at a rate higher than the toll taken by the militants. From 2007 to May 2010, 208 soldiers lost their lives in actions against militants while 368 soldiers killed themselves during this period.

Another 15 to 30 soldiers try to kill themselves every year, but fail. The worry is that they might try again.

This alarming trend of suicides and fratricidal killings in the Armed Forc­es during the recent past is attributable to enhanced stress environment leading to psychological imbalance in the soldiers.

Suicide awareness infor­mation

Suicide Symptoms

1. A person contemplating suicide: -Appears depressed, sad, and tearful and/ or may display changes in patterns of sleep and/ or appetite. Be­lieves he/ she is in a hopeless situation.

2. May talk about or actu­ally threaten suicide, or may talk about death and dying in a way that strikes the listener as odd.

3. May display changes in behaviour, appearance or mood.

4. May increase or start drug or alcohol use.

5. May injure self or en­gage in risky behaviour.

6. Abandons planning for future.

7. May start withdrawing from others, including family and close friends.

8. May give away posses­sions.

9. May appear apathetic, unmotivated and /or indiffer­ent.

10. May start dressing in strange hot colors

-Prevention Keys

The junior or sub-unit leaders are the first ones to identify the signs of a poten­tial suicide-risk soldier. The following prevention keys will provide aid to persons at anticipated risk: – Ask: “Are you thinking about hurting yourself?” Intervene imme­diately. Do not keep a secret concerning a person at risk.

Stress-Reduction Tech­niques for Military Leaders

To reduce stress, the mili­tary leader should:-

1. Lead by inspiration, not by fear or intimidation.

2. Initiate and support stress management pro­grammes through Surgery of Emotions.

3. Provide information to focus stress positively.

4. Avoid radiation and microwave food

5. Ensure each person has mastered at least two stress coping (relaxation) tech­niques, a slow one for deep relaxation and a quick one for on the job.

6. Look out for soldiers’ welfare.

7. Stay away from con­stant usage of cell phones and reduce the time spent

8. Communicate with soldiers personally to learn about stressors and direct signs of stress.

9. Understand that stress in response to threatening or uncertain situations is nor­mal.

10. Create a spirit to win under stress.

11. Avoid radiation from electronic gadgets

12. Avoid Microwave heat­ed food and drinks

13. Act as a role mod­el for self-control of stress reactions. Realistic training is the primary stress-reduction technique. It assures soldiers’ maximum confidence in their skills and belief that their leaders are doing their best for them. Since the basic ne­cessities of life assume even greater importance on the battlefield, leaders should:-

a. Ensure personnel are properly trained.

b. Ensure training includes understanding of combat stress and how to deal with it.c. Place welfare of subordi­nates before personal wel­fare, but keep them capable.

d. Ensure personnel get as much rest as possible.

14. Tuning the brain’s fre­quency and rhythm to ground zero or its equilibrium-shift from 58 MHz to 62-68 MHz (Using all other “codes” to regularise coping mechanisms to rectify the condition).

By Robert Ekow Grimmond-Thompson

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