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Male Military Spouses, Depression, and CNN

Chris
Chris

OK guys, I got into a debate this week with a CNN reporter looking to do a story on military spouses and suicide.  I 100% agree that our situation as male military spouses can be (usually is) a lonely, pride-swallowing, emasculating experience.  It can absolutely take an otherwise optimistic person to a pretty serious state of depression.  However, I don't believe this lifestyle alone is bad enough to cause someone to commit suicide.  I think for those thoughts to occur, the person has more serious issues that military life probably inflames.  Divorce...yeah, but suicide?  I say no, she says yes, what do you think?

Written 5 years and 8 months ago by Chris | new member | website

Replies

AndrewAndrew

I say no, if it comes to suicide there is a much bigger underlying problem.  Yes it can be lonely but it is also lonely for our spouses who put strap on the boots everday.  I can say I was more depressed as a military member than I was as a spouse, because I was missing everything. That was before I had two baby girls so I can only imagine what my wife is going through everyday getting up before five in the morning and getting back to the house, if she is lucky, before six in the evening.  There is a study that states, and this is for a civilian full time position holder, that on average they will see their children only 12 hours a week.(work week M-F)  Now imagine a military member on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year?  Yes, they get weekends and some holidays which bumps that number up, but if they deploy then that number is ZERO.  So as spouses I would say, yes we have it hard but we are also very lucky.  I have never heard of a spouse commiting suicide for staying at home and spending time with the kids.  However, I have heard of a spouse commiting suicide due to losing their loved one overseas but that was only once.  It is sad but I can honestly say no one was there for her.  She was not in contact with the FRG, FRO, or antyhing.  I think now the military has done a really good job on helping the spouses and kids with long training events and deployments.  Even though it is not perfect it does help and in some cases yes it does come to divorce more times than it should but not suicide.

Written 5 years and 8 months ago by Andrew | new member
WayneWayne

I agree 100% with what you said in the way you have presented it. Being a male military spouse is not much different than being a female military spouse in regards to triggers of depression and such. So you are completely right.

I do believe this lifestyle can be a trigger to suicide. While the lifestyle in and of itself can bring someone to a "dark place" via depression and anxiety, this lifestyle for some is also that trigger. For some who because of this life are on a path for divorce, divorce is the bullet.

As you stated, there are probably underlying issues going on that are brought to the surface because of the life we live. I have personally been able to walk through some very "dark" times with other MANspouses. Both my own personal dark times and theirs.

Most men don't share how they are truly feeling/doing. There is this "tough-guy" mentality we feel we must present to the world. But when we lower our own walls and share our own stories, we will find countless others who have been there as well. But if we continue with that "tough-guy" mentality we are blinded to what is lying right in front of us. We are too ignorant to see the suffering that surrounds us. ***This is true to life in general, not just military life.***

Is this life the clear cut defining reason someone may contemplate suicide? Nope. Not at all. But it can play a major factor in bringing someone there. And until we further that conversation and start talking about the correlation of being a military family member and suicide, we will continue to see the numbers rise for suicide amongst military family members. There is a reason why this is such a hot topic in our community. Because it is happening at an alarming rate but it is continually swept under the rug and discounted as being related to the life we live when in actuality the relation between this life and suicide are more evident than many realize. Luckily for us the "powers that be" in Washington recognize this and are working on it.  

Written 5 years and 8 months ago by Wayne | new member
TaurusTaurus

This military lifestyle and life as a male military spouse is not enough to cause someone to commit suicide. Clearly defining a single cause for suicide is next to impossible. You can't say the male military spouse lifestyle caused a guy to commit suicide.

I like Wayne's points about how this lifestyle can trigger depression and other factors which may lead to suicide. But then we are not talking about a single cause. We are talking about contributing factors which may (or may not) lead a person to commit suicide. Chris also pointed out that this military life can negatively contribute to a person's existing serious issues.

The male military spouse lifestyle is not the cause for suicide (or divorce). Suicide (like divorce) is a choice made on a personal, individual level, not at a lifestyle level. This debate requires a closer at each person, who happens to be a male military spouse.

Great points, guys! I would like to see the discussion go on to highlighting more of the possible contributing factors which may (or may not) lead a person to commit suicide. We can highlight these factors with our own stories pointing out what choices we made in order to be here now as evidence that the male military spouse lifestyle is not bad enough to cause someone to commit suicide.

Written 5 years and 8 months ago by Taurus | new member | website
samuelsamuel

This is a good subject to debate. I concurr that military lifestyle  alone is not enough to commit suicide as a spouse. But if a spouse was prior active duty or reserve with undetected mental issues such as PTSD, depression, anxiety etc. and also have to deal with readjusting to civillian lifestyle after service especially with lower income or no income, no job prospect, with constant pressure from active duty wife and families from both sides to go out and make things happen regardless. I know for a fact that most military personnel do not have a clue on what is like to be a civillian when it comes to survival. These factors can make spouses' life super miserable. I still do not know why married military cannot be treated like a package when it comes to (jobs and PCS). It will only make mission better. and why should most military spouse accept $9, $10 NAF positions at every new locations. They expect you to come out to military functions,and get togethers with pride. It is easy for active duty member to cheat on their spouses, because of the financial and social status. Money talks! Can a male spouse with no gainful employment keep is relationship from temptation? not completely. I wonder what it feels like to be Gen Petraeus mistress's husband. I'm just glad i'm a veteran myself...it does help a bit.

Written 5 years and 7 months ago by samuel | new member
stevesteve

Thanks everyone for your thoughts and your posts. I concur with most of what I've read here. Suicide isn't an isolated occurance; it develops within the context of our lives, and depression if present certainly will affect our context. I want to emphasize a point Wayne made, that suicide needs a precipitating event, whether it be illness, personal stagnation, finances, loss of a loved one-for any reason- but particularly I think we should take divorce [and the problems leading there] much more seriously. I've read a lot of stats here and there, most recently I think on Military.com, that talk about female service members being the demographic with the highest divorce rate in the service. That means that proportionately whatever is going on with us, whether it be isolation, depression, substance abuse, or whatever is most probably going to be exacerbated. Living a life with a marginalized role is never easy, so proactively tend to those things that can make it worse...

Written 5 years and 2 months ago by steve | new member
ChrisChris

Very well put Steve, welcome to the conversation!  I hope to create some videos down the road that discuss such issues in further detail...maybe as a way to help re-enforce the fact that none of us are alone in this lifestyle.

Written 5 years and 2 months ago by Chris | new member | website
ChrisChris

I think you have to look at what the root of the complication is. Suicide is definately something that can result from this lifestyle. Sucidal ideation can be rooted to life style. 

 

"Some studies have

shown that long work hours, job stressors, and low social

support may contribute to the development of depression,

which in turn may lead to suicide" - http://www.jniosh.go.jp/en/indu_hel/pdf/IH_47_6_649.pdf

 

all of these are factors that play into the military spouse lifestyle as well. Our Wive's work long hours and are rarely home. Mine works 86 hour weeks and is attached to a pager when not at work. This leaves me to tend house,take care of the child, the dog and all the bills and other household tasks. I also work. A military salary (even an officer's salary) is not enough to support a child, an ailing mother in law, ourselves and manage to pay large amounts of school loans.

I currenty work go to sleep around 10pm after eating dinner as late as 8pm due to logn work hours. I am expected to work from 7AM to 1630 monday through Friday. This means with one car I am up at 430-5AM. The part of post I work at is closed from 630 - 730 so I must report at 0600. Lack of sleep can contribute to depression as well as lack of good diet (0800 pm dinner etc.).

 

Adding to that, without our little group of male spouses, lack of social support would also be doubled. I am in a place where I have not met any male spouse I can relate to and am shunned by the female spouses.

as you see things can snowball.

 

i would also like to notate that not all men are cut out for being a milatary spouse. I have had my trouble in the past of letting go of everything I was taught as being a man. I was raised partially by my grandfather and was taught the 1940/1950s version. I was to rise up a ladder, take care of my family etc. This was changed as i became a military spouse. currently I have 15 years work experience, 7 years of which are logistics management, a masters degree in public administration (3.4 gpa) and a bachelors in international business... and i'm a desk clerk in mental health clinic in a GS-4 position due to spousal employment.

i'm not saying i'm down for suicide but with a ball rolling it is possible someone might be willing. There are several factors related to being a military spouse that can make a persons results on suicidal ideation scale and depression scale sky rocket. You must also remember that not all suicide is aggressive ... there is a type B suicide. These include neglecting one's health and overtly placing oneself in danger (suicide by cop, etc.).

Just cause you or I wouldn't do it doesn't mean antoher wouldn't.

 

 

 

 

3,

Written 5 years and 1 month ago by Chris | new member
ChrisChris

 

I think you have to look at what the root of the complication is. Suicide is definately something that can result from this lifestyle. Sucidal ideation can be rooted to life style. 

 

 

 

"Some studies have

 

shown that long work hours, job stressors, and low social

 

support may contribute to the development of depression,

 

which in turn may lead to suicide" - http://www.jniosh.go.jp/en/indu_hel/pdf/IH_47_6_649.pdf

 

 

 

all of these are factors that play into the military spouse lifestyle as well. Our Wive's work long hours and are rarely home. Mine works 86 hour weeks and is attached to a pager when not at work. This leaves me to tend house,take care of the child, the dog and all the bills and other household tasks. I also work. A military salary (even an officer's salary) is not enough to support a child, an ailing mother in law, ourselves and manage to pay large amounts of school loans.

 

I currenty work go to sleep around 10pm after eating dinner as late as 8pm due to logn work hours. I am expected to work from 7AM to 1630 monday through Friday. This means with one car I am up at 430-5AM. The part of post I work at is closed from 630 - 730 so I must report at 0600. Lack of sleep can contribute to depression as well as lack of good diet (0800 pm dinner etc.).

 

 

 

Adding to that, without our little group of male spouses, lack of social support would also be doubled. I am in a place where I have not met any male spouse I can relate to and am shunned by the female spouses.

 

as you see things can snowball.

 

 

 

i would also like to notate that not all men are cut out for being a milatary spouse. I have had my trouble in the past of letting go of everything I was taught as being a man. I was raised partially by my grandfather and was taught the 1940/1950s version. I was to rise up a ladder, take care of my family etc. This was changed as i became a military spouse. currently I have 15 years work experience, 7 years of which are logistics management, a masters degree in public administration (3.4 gpa) and a bachelors in international business... and i'm a desk clerk in mental health clinic in a GS-4 position due to spousal employment.

 

i'm not saying i'm down for suicide but with a ball rolling it is possible someone might be willing. There are several factors related to being a military spouse that can make a persons results on suicidal ideation scale and depression scale sky rocket. You must also remember that not all suicide is aggressive ... there is a type B suicide. These include neglecting one's health and overtly placing oneself in danger (suicide by cop, etc.).

 

Just cause you or I wouldn't do it doesn't mean antoher wouldn't.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3,

 

Written 5 years and 1 month ago by Chris | new member

 

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