Getting Help for Combat Stress

Guardsmen with dog

Learning to recognize the signs of combat stress in yourself, another service member or a family member who has returned from a war zone can help you call on the right resources to begin the healing process.

Combat stress and stress injuries

Combat stress is the natural response of the body and brain to the stressors of combat, traumatic experiences and the wear and tear of extended and demanding operations. Although there are many causes and signs of combat stress, certain key symptoms are common in most cases:

  • Problems sleeping
  • Uncharacteristic irritability or angry outbursts
  • Unusual anxiety or panic attacks
  • Signs of depression such as apathy, changes in appetite, loss of interest in hobbies or activities, or poor hygiene
  • Physical symptoms such as fatigue, aches and pains, nausea, diarrhea or constipation
  • Other changes in behavior, personality or thinking

Combat stress sometimes leads to stress injuries, which can cause physical changes to the brain that alter the way it processes information and handles stress. You should be aware of the following when dealing with a stress injury:

  • Stress injuries can change the way a person functions mentally, emotionally, behaviorally and physically.
  • The likelihood of having a combat stress injury rises as combat exposure increases.
  • The earlier you identify the signs of a stress injury, the faster a full recovery can occur.
  • If left untreated, a stress injury may develop into more chronic and hard-to-treat problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • There is no guaranteed way to prevent or protect yourself from a stress injury, but there are things you can do to help yourself and others recover.

Stress reactions

Different people handle stress — and combat stress — differently, and it’s not clear why one person may have a more severe reaction than another. Here’s what you need to know about stress reactions:

  • Stress reactions can last from a few days to a few weeks to as long as a year.
  • Delayed stress reactions can surface long after a traumatic incident or extended exposure to difficult conditions has occurred.
  • An inability to adapt to everyday life after returning from deployment can be a reaction to combat stress.

How to get help

If you or someone you know is suffering from a combat stress injury, it is important to get professional help as soon as possible. Reach out to one of the following resources if you have symptoms of combat stress or stress injury, or if you are experiencing severe stress reactions:

  • Combat Stress Control Teams provide on-site support during deployment.
  • Your unit chaplain may offer counseling and guidance on many issues that affect deployed or returning service members and their families.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs has readjustment counseling for combat veterans and their families, including those still on active duty, at community-based Vet Centers.
  • TRICARE provides medical counseling services either at a military treatment facility or through a network provider in your area. Contact your primary care manager or your regional TRICARE office for a referral.
  • The Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence provides free resources on traumatic brain injury to help service members, veterans, family members and health care providers. Resources include educational materials, fact sheets, clinical recommendations and much more.
  • Veterans Crisis Line offers confidential support 24/7/365 and is staffed by qualified responders from the Department of Veterans Affairs — some of whom have served in the military themselves. Call 800-273-8255, then press 1, or access online chat by texting to 838255.
  • Non-military support channels such as community-based or religious programs can offer guidance and help in your recovery.

If you are suffering from combat stress, you are not alone. Reach out to get the help and treatment you need to be able to live your life fully.

Recognizing the Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Service member tying boots

People who live through a traumatic event sometimes suffer its effects long after the real danger has passed. This is called post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. While PTSD is often associated with combat veterans, any survivor of a natural disaster, physical abuse or other traumatic event may suffer from it. The good news is that with professional help, PTSD is treatable. But the first steps in getting help are learning the risk factors, recognizing the symptoms and understanding the treatment options.

Knowing the risk factors

Several factors play a role in developing PTSD, such as individual personality, severity of the event, proximity to the event, the people involved in the event, duration of the trauma and the amount of support the person receives afterward. You may be at higher risk if you:

  • Were directly involved in the traumatic event
  • Were injured or had a near-death experience
  • Survived an especially long-lasting or severe traumatic event
  • Truly believed your life or that of someone around you was in danger
  • Had a strong emotional or physical reaction during the event
  • Received little or no support following the event
  • Have multiple other sources of stress in your life

Recognizing the symptoms

Just as individual reactions to trauma vary, PTSD symptoms also differ from person to person. Symptoms may appear immediately after a traumatic event or they may appear weeks, months or even years later. Although the symptoms of a “typical” stress reaction can resemble those of PTSD, true PTSD symptoms continue for a prolonged time period and often interfere with a person’s daily routines and commitments. While only a trained medical professional can diagnose PTSD, possible signs of the disorder include:

  • Re-experiencing trauma. Post-traumatic stress disorder frequently includes flashbacks, or moments in which the person relives the initial traumatic event or re-experiences the intense feelings of fear that surrounded it.
  • Avoidance/numbness. As a result of flashbacks or other negative feelings, people suffering from PTSD may avoid conversations or situations that remind them of the frightening event they survived.
  • Hyper arousal. Feeling constantly on edge, feeling irritable and having difficulty sleeping or concentrating are all possible signs of PTSD.

Children can also suffer from PTSD. In children, PTSD symptoms may differ from those seen in adults and may include trouble sleeping, acting out or regression in toilet training, speech or behavior. Parents of children with PTSD may notice that the children’s artwork or pretend play involves dark or violent themes or details.

Understanding the treatment options

Even suspecting you have PTSD is reason enough to get a professional opinion, especially when free help is available around the clock to service members and their families. If you’re not sure whom to talk to, start with any of the following:

  • Military treatment facility or covered services. You can locate the nearest military treatment facility and covered services in the civilian community near you through the TRICARE website.
  • Your healthcare provider. If you receive health care in the community through a civilian provider, you can start by talking to your doctor.
  • Local Department of Veterans Affairs hospital. If you are eligible to receive care through a VA hospital or clinic, find the nearest facility through the Veterans Health Administration website.
  • Military Crisis Line. If you or anyone you know ever experiences thoughts of suicide, call the Military Crisis Line at 800-273-8255. The Military Crisis Line staff can connect you with mental health support and crisis counseling services for a wide range of issues.

Remember, you are not alone. Free help is available 24/7 to service members and their families. Seeking help is a sign of strength that helps to protect your loved ones, your career, and your mental and physical health.

Note: Military OneSource does not provide medical counseling services for issues such as depression, substance abuse, suicide prevention or post-traumatic stress disorder. This article is intended for informational purposes only. Military OneSource can provide referrals to your local military treatment facility, TRICARE or another appropriate resource.

Military OneSource Virtual Resources for Well-Being

Military female on smart phone using Mood Hacker application

Current as of Sept. 29, 2020

Social distancing is vital to stemming the spread of coronavirus disease 2019. But being isolated from others can increase stress and anxiety levels.

It’s important to take care of all aspects of your health. This includes your emotional well-being. Military OneSource offers telehealth counseling and virtual support. This allows you to get the help you need while staying safe.

Telehealth services for mental health and well-being

Military OneSource has a team of counselors, consultants and coaches to help you tackle challenges. Connect with them at your convenience online, by phone or by chat. These services are free to service members and their immediate family.

Non-medical counseling

Non-medical counselors offer confidential sessions by secure video, chat or in person. Counselors are licensed and master’s level or higher. Counselors can help with everyday stressors and personal challenges due to COVID-19. Service members and family members who may benefit from non-medical counseling include:

  • Anyone who might be struggling with loneliness, feelings of isolation, stress and anxiety.
  • Couples who find themselves arguing more or not communicating well because of the strain of isolating at home.
  • Parents who are dealing with difficult behaviors stemming from the pandemic.
  • Children and youth ages 6-17, who might benefit from healthy coping strategies.

Building Healthy Relationships specialty consultations

This specialty consultation offers a number of tracks that are customized to different relationships. Your consultant will help you identify the track – or tracks – that are right for you. They are:

  • Building Healthy Relationships
  • Healthy Parent-Child Connections
  • Communication Refreshers
  • Staying Connected While Away
  • Blended Family
  • MilSpouse Toolkit
  • Reconnecting After Deployment

New MilParent specialty consultations

Welcoming a new baby and parenting a young child can be both exciting and exhausting. This is true even in the best of times. Military OneSource’s New MilParent specialty consultation is here for you.

This program offers confidential support for military parents with children up to age 5. It’s also available to expectant parents. A New MilParent specialty consultant can help with your parenting questions. The consultant will also connect you with resources, including those created for military parents. Sessions are available through video or phone at a time that works for you.

Health and wellness coaching

A Military OneSource health and wellness coach can help in a number of ways. Your coach can help you manage stress, deal with life changes or get back on track to healthy eating and physical fitness.

Your coach will help you set goals and create a plan to meet them. Health and wellness coaching is available for teenagers and adults.

Resilience tools and apps

Military OneSource offers a variety of resilience tools and well-being apps. Tap into these to help manage stress, strengthen your relationships and meet your goals.

Resilience tools

Military OneSource resilience tools include:

  • CoachHub, which connects you with experts who can help you set and meet goals.
  • MoodHacker, which lets you track, understand and improve how you’re feeling.
  • Love Every Day, which connects you with your partner through text-message prompts.

Recommended wellness apps

The Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs and other partners developed apps for service members. You’ll find recommended apps that train you in deep-breathing techniques, positive thinking, problem-solving skills and more.

Support with mental health care

The Department of Defense inTransition program provides specialized coaching for service members, veterans and retirees who need access to mental health care during a transition, such as relocating to another assignment, returning from deployment or preparing to leave military service.

Military OneSource can help you stay healthy in body and mind. Tap into telehealth counseling and virtual support during the pandemic and beyond.

To stay up to date on all the latest information on COVID-19, view the following sites:

It’s important to take care of all aspects of your health. This includes your emotional well-being. Military OneSource offers telehealth counseling and virtual support. This allows you to get the help you need while staying safe.

Mental Health Matters in the Military

Mental health specialist speaks with a service member in her office.

Just as physical fitness is a central part of military life, good mental health is as important for your well-being, and military and family readiness. Mental health challenges and issues shouldn’t be ignored or hidden. There are lots of resources available to help anyone who is struggling with mental health challenges to feel better.

Recognizing signs and addressing challenges early

Start by learning to recognize signs in yourself or in someone close to you. Adults and teens who are suffering from a mental health disorder may display any number of the following signs:

  • Prolonged sadness or irritability
  • Feelings of extreme highs and lows
  • Excessive fears, worries and anxieties
  • Social withdrawal
  •  Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Strong feelings of anger
  • Delusions or hallucinations
  • Growing inability to cope with daily problems and activities
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Denial of obvious problems
  • Numerous unexplained physical ailments
  • Excessive substance use

Help for you, fellow service members or family members

Reaching out is the first step towards recovery. These resources can get you started:

  • Check your mental health. If you are wondering if you have symptoms of a specific mental health condition, you can complete a brief screening tool and get instant feedback. This tool from the Department of Veterans Affairs is confidential and anonymous; none of the results are stored on your account or sent anywhere.
  • TRICARE is the health care program for military members and their families. The program is divided into two regions (East and West), and offers overseas assistance. TRICARE may provide coverage for medically necessary mental health services. Mental Health Care Services offers outpatient psychotherapy for up to two sessions per week in any combination of individually or as a, family, group or collateral sessions. The TRICARE Military Treatment Facility Locator is the locator tool for military treatment centers.
  • The National Institute of Mental Health provides information on a variety of mental health topics and list current clinical trials that allow persons to access treatment for free. Call 866-615-6464.
  • Mental disorders can lead to substance use disorders. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration offers information about prevention, treatment, recovery and more.
  • InTransition is a free, confidential program that offers specialized coaching and assistance to service members, veterans and retirees who need access to mental health care during times of transition, such as returning from deployment, relocating to another assignment or preparing to leave military service.

Mental health for children and youth

Signs in adolescents. Many symptoms in adolescents may be similar to those in adults, but you may notice other characteristics, including:

  • Defiance of authority, truancy, theft or vandalism
  • Decrease in grades
  • Intense fear of weight gain
  • Prolonged negative mood, often accompanied by poor appetite or thoughts of death

Signs in younger children and preadolescents. Young children and preadolescents may display some of the following characteristics:

  • Changes in school performance
  • Poor grades despite strong efforts
  • Excessive worry or anxiety (such as refusing to go to bed or school)
  •  Hyperactivity
  • Persistent nightmares
  • Persistent disobedience or aggression
  • Frequent temper tantrums

Finding help. For children’s mental and behavioral health care, reach out to TRICARE.

Mental and behavioral health concerns and conditions vary greatly in children and adolescents from adults, and special considerations apply for children of military families.

When to step in and help, or ask for help

Don’t let stigma stand in your way of helping — or reaching out. An estimated one in five American adults experience a diagnosable mental health disorder each year. Many of these conditions are common and treatable; yet many people suffer in silence because of shame and stigma. Facing issues early is a sign of strength.

You wouldn’t hesitate to seek help for a physical ailment. So reach out for assistance with depression, anxiety and other mental health issues, and encourage others to do the same.

If you need help immediately: Suicide is a serious issue for service members and their loved ones — and suffering from a mental health disorder can increase the risk. If you or someone you know is at risk, the Military Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day. Call 800-273-8255 and Press 1. You can also start a conversation via online chat or text (838255).

Note: Military OneSource does not provide medical counseling services for issues such as depression, substance use disorders, suicide prevention or post-traumatic stress disorder. This article is intended for informational purposes only. Military OneSource can provide referrals to your local military treatment facility, TRICARE or another appropriate resource.

Resources for Understanding Suicide Prevention in the Military

A soldier walks through a dark tunnel with a light and tree filled opening.

Service members put their life on the line to protect our country. But serious risks may lurk in everyday life for some with intense trainings or as the pace of military life suddenly gets faster and for prolonged periods. And that can be even harder and more confusing to deal with as a loved one.

Suicide is a serious issue in the military. Significant life changes, stress and unique challenges of military life can make service members feel isolated, and some may be at greater risk for suicide than others.

You can make a difference in a loved one’s life by understanding when a service member is most at risk and knowing where to turn for help.

Learn more about when a service member may be at risk for suicide.

Times when a service member can feel added isolation or stress

As part of their network of support, it’s important to be aware of the moments in a service member’s life that can add stress on their mind or body. Service members do not have to be diagnosed with PTSD to be at risk for harming themselves.

Mental health issues can happen to anyone, at any time. Here are some points in a service member’s life when they can feel especially alone, agitated or anxious:

  • Around times of deployment or difficulty readjusting following deployment
  • Loss of a family member, friend or fellow service member
  • Career setbacks or disciplinary actions
  • Difficulty in a marriage or family life
  • Transitioning from military to civilian life
  • Financial difficulty
  • Major life changes

Some ways to be there for your service member in trying times

As a loved one, you know your service member best. Trust your instincts and talk to them if you think they may be having suicidal thoughts.

  • Mention the signs that prompted you to talk to them. Stay calm and let them know you are here to help.
  • Do not counsel them yourself. Ask questions and listen – but encourage them to get professional help if there is a threat.
  • Communication needs to be mostly listening, but ask direct questions without being judgmental, such as:
    • “Are you thinking about killing yourself?”
    • “Have you ever wished you were dead or wished you could go to sleep and not wake up?”
    • “Have you ever tried to end your life?”
    • “Do you think you might try to kill yourself today?”

Resources and mental health help are available

Knowing the risk factors, warning signs and where to turn is the best thing you can do for your service member. Support is available 24/7 both for your loved one in distress and yourself. If someone you know is suicidal or in a state of crisis, the Military Crisis Line/Veterans Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day (1-800-273-8255 and Press 1). Crisis experts are available via online chat or text (838255). Or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

It’s important to take care of yourself when supporting someone through a hard time. If you also need support, contact the Lifeline.

You can learn more about suicide prevention through the Defense Suicide Prevention Office.

Parenting Infants and Toddlers – The Essentials

Family sitting on couch with child hugging mother

Welcome to parenthood. It is the most rewarding and challenging job you’ll likely have. As a warrior, you are well trained and understand you need to rely on others for mission success. Military OneSource is there to be a part of your parenting support team, connecting you to valuable intel, resources and benefits so you can enjoy these first few years of parenthood.

Here are the essentials for new military parents to keep in mind:

Tap into support resources.

You can be more confident as a new parent if you know where to go for support. The New Parent Support Program, staffed by nurses, social workers and home visitation specialists, provides a number of services: supportive home visits to expectant and current parents, prenatal and parenting classes, playgroups and more. Discover more by contacting Military OneSource, which also can connect parents with consultants who know about education, adoption and special needs.

Parenting questions? We all have them.

Try Thrive — a free, new online parenting-education program. It can help you raise healthy, resilient children.

Relevant Articles:

Relevant Resources:

Keep your baby safe.

As a new parent, there are basic ways to keep your baby safe: making sure your baby is always supervised; using extra caution at bath time; creating a safe sleep area by removing all soft objects and loose bedding from the crib; and protecting your child from all medications and other hazards. Check out other ways to keep your baby safe.

Relevant Articles:

Relevant Resources:

Understand discipline strategies.

Parenting takes patience, especially when your child is misbehaving. That’s when you’ll need to have patience, take deep breaths and put a positive discipline strategy to work. Misbehavior is a natural part of growing up. By using positive discipline, you can keep your children safe, help them learn valuable skills for life and teach them to keep cool under pressure. Check out tips for disciplining your child, potty training, coping with a crying baby and more.

Relevant Articles:

Relevant Resources:

Talk with your child.

Did you know talking to your children from the get-go is one of the most important parts of parenting? The way your child communicates will change a lot between birth and the age of 5, and children sometimes have a language of their own. Knowing what to expect helps you to understand and respond to your child in meaningful ways. Check out our parenting tips for talking with your young child.

Relevant Articles:

Relevant Resources:

Know the signs of postpartum depression.

While the “baby blues” are common for many women after giving birth, some women face a more prolonged and serious period of depression. If your feelings of sadness or anxiety do not go away, you may be suffering from postpartum depression. Review our potential signs of postpartum depression.

Relevant Articles:

Relevant Resources:

Does Receiving Psychological Health Care Affect Security Clearance?

Psychologist listens to a patient.

The Department of Defense wants you to know that getting help for a psychological issue is a sign of strength. Speaking up can be a sign of good judgment, responsible behavior and a commitment to performance.

Eliminating negative stereotypes

Service members, contractors and civilians are often required to have a security clearance, so the department has taken actions to eliminate negative stereotypes about psychological health problems and any impact of treatment on your career.

When someone applies for security clearance, they need to fill out the “Questionnaire for National Security Positions,” Standard Form 86. To protect privacy, and to assure there are no negative repercussions because of treatment or counseling for a psychological health issue, DOD has made changes to the form.

Question 21 and when to answer “no”

Question 21 of Standard Form 86 asks, “In the last seven years, have you consulted with a health care professional regarding an emotional or mental health condition, or were you hospitalized for such a condition?”

You can answer “no” if:

  • You’ve received counseling strictly related to adjustment from service in combat.

  • You’ve received counseling strictly related to marital or family issues (not court ordered or related to violence you have committed), or grief issues.

  • You’re a victim of sexual assault who received counseling related to that trauma.

An applicant cannot be denied an interim security clearance solely due to a “yes” to Question 21.

How the Department of Defense protects your privacy

There are more ways that DOD protects your privacy during security clearance:

  • A security investigator can only ask your health care provider to answer yes or no to the question, “Does the person under investigation have a condition that could impair his or her judgment, reliability or ability to properly safeguard classified information?”

  • When the provider’s answer is “no,” the investigator is not allowed to ask further questions.

  • When the provider’s answer is “yes,” a security investigator may interview the provider and the applicant confidentially to gather additional information to determine the security risk.

  • Commanders, supervisors and security managers are not authorized to ask an applicant or anyone else about psychological health care revealed in response to Question 21.

  • Applicants may report any unauthorized questioning about psychological health care to the DOD Inspector General Hotline at 800-424-9098.

If you’re ready to seek help for any type of psychological or personal issue, you have many counseling service options. Remember, seeking help early to improve your performance is a sign of strength and commitment.

Contact a Military OneSource non-medical counselor at 800-342-9647 to help you identify the kind of help you need and put you in touch with the right services. OCONUS/International? Click here for calling options.

Note: Military OneSource does not provide medical counseling services for issues such as depression, substance abuse, suicide prevention or post-traumatic stress disorder. This article is intended for informational purposes only. Military OneSource can provide referrals to your local military treatment facility, TRICARE or another appropriate resource.

The Importance of Practicing Self-Care During Times of Stress

Woman reading book at home

Current as of April 23, 2020

You’re used to giving it your all. It’s what providers, service members and military families do. But prolonged crises like the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic can take a toll on your well-being. When stress is high with little relief in sight, taking care of yourself is key so you’ll be there for your loved ones and those you serve.

The importance of self-care

It’s hard to break away – even temporarily – when people depend on you. But it’s unrealistic to be on the go 24/7 when stress is already high. Neglecting yourself puts you at risk for burnout, compassion fatigue and secondary traumatic stress.

Think of your response to an ongoing crisis like COVID-19 as a marathon, not a sprint. The only way to get through it is to pace yourself so you can see to your own needs as well as those of others.

Three steps to self-care

Safeguarding your mental health and well-being is just as important as using the right tools for the job. You can’t function well without them. Practice self-care with these three steps:

  1. Recognize the signs of burnout: anxiety, irritability, disengagement, low mood and exhaustion.
  2. Take a break: Even 10 minutes to yourself can help you recharge. Use the time to do something that lifts your spirits. Take a brisk walk, practice deep breathing, check out the free digital health tools below. If you tend to lose track of time when you’re busy, set a reminder on your phone or wearable device.
  3. Help create a positive environment. We’re all in this together, both at work and at home. It’s important to lift each other up. Let your coworkers and family know you appreciate them. Be generous with praise, notice their accomplishments, be helpful and kind.

Resilience tools

The Defense Health Agency recommends a number of digital self-care apps found on the Military OneSource Recommended Wellness Apps page. These free tools were developed by the Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs, psychologists and other partners. They include:

  • Breathe2Relax: This app offers deep-breathing techniques to relax and unwind. Use it on the go to tap into your breathing.
  • Virtual Hope Box: This app includes personalized tools to help you cope, relax, avoid distractions and connect to others. There’s plenty here to help you learn how to handle stress and anxiety during self-care breaks.

The Defense Health Agency also recommends the following podcast:

  • Military Meditation Coach: This podcast offers relaxation exercises and tips to keep your mental health on track. Tune in during your self-care breaks to relax and clear your mind.

For providers

The Defense Health Agency’s Provider Resilience Toolkit includes the apps and podcast above as well as:

  • Provider Resilience was developed specifically for frontline care teams. It offers self-assessments, stress reduction tools and a dashboard to track your daily resilience rating. It can be found on our Recommended Wellness Apps page.

Stay up to date on all the latest information on COVID-19. For Department of Defense updates for the military community regarding the virus that causes COVID-19, view the following sites

When stress is high with little relief in sight, taking care of yourself is key so you’ll be there for your loved ones and those you serve.

Suicide Awareness

Servicemember reaching out and helping up another.

Suicide is a serious concern in military communities; service members and their families deal with a great number of stressors. You can help reduce the risk of suicide. Pay attention to those around you — or reach out to talk to someone if you feel you can’t cope.

Recognizing the warning signs of suicide risk

You can help reduce the risk of suicide by offering support to those around you, and seeking help if you need it yourself. Keep an eye out for friends, family or coworkers distancing themselves from their community, unit or loved ones. Seek help if a person:

  • Talks or writes about suicide, death or ways to die
  • Threatens to hurt or kill themselves
  • Tries to obtain pills, guns or other means of self-harm
  • Suffers a sudden or dramatic change in mood or behavior
  • Expresses feeling hopeless or trapped
  • Begins preparing a will, giving away possessions or making arrangements for pets
  • Suffers from intense rage or desire for revenge
  • Increases alcohol or drug use

When a service member may be at risk for suicide

A service member could be at greater risk for suicide when he or she is having a negative experience or prolonged constant stress and if one of the following criteria is met:

  • Being a young, unmarried male
  • A recent return from deployment
  • Combat-related psychological injuries
  • Lack of advancement or career setback
  • A sense of a loss or honor, disciplinary actions
  • Relationship problems
  • Grief from loss
  • Heavy drinking or other substance use problems
  • Mental or medical health problems
  • Negative attitude toward getting help

Acting on warning signs

Suicidal people sometimes have mixed feelings about ending their lives and either intentionally or unintentionally signal their intentions. Contact a mental health professional or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 if you see one of these warning signs:

  • Feeling hopeless or trapped
  • Dramatic mood changes
  • Threatens to hurt or kill himself or herself
  • Unusual spending
  • Withdrawn from society
  • Intense rage or desire for revenge
  • Increased alcohol or drug use
  • Tries to get pills or guns
  • Preparing a will
  • Talks or writes about ways to die

If you believe a person is in immediate danger of suicide:

  • Stay until help arrives. Never leave a person experiencing suicidal thoughts alone.
  • Remove any weapons, drugs or other means of self-injury from the area.
  • If you’re on the phone, try to keep him or her on the line while you or someone else calls 911, the Military Crisis Line 1-800-273-8255, or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Keep talking until help arrives.

If the person is unwilling to accept help, contact command or law enforcement.

If you or someone you know is suicidal or in a state of crisis, you can contact the Military Crisis Line 24 hours a day (1-800-273-8255 and Press 1). You can also start a conversation via online chat or text (838255).

Note: Military OneSource does not provide medical counseling services for issues such as depression, substance abuse, suicide prevention or post-traumatic stress disorder. This article is intended for informational purposes only. Military OneSource can provide referrals to your local military treatment facility, TRICARE or another appropriate resource.