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On average, 22 veterans commit suicide every day. That is an abominable statistic that can be found in numerous studies and reports. In a total non sequitor I came across an article this weekend concerning the “drunkest cities” in America. I decided to look into both issues to see if there is a correlation.
24/7 Wall Street released a report based on self-reported data that lists the 20 drunkest cities in the country. For the record, here they are.
20: Corvallis, Oregon
19: Iowa City, Iowa
18: Lincoln, Nebraska
17: Milwaukee/Waukesha/West Allis, Wisconsin
16: Janesville/Beloit, Wisconsin
15: Racine, Wisconsin
14: Grand Forks, North Dakota
13: Missoula, Montana
12: Sheboygan, Wisconsin
11: Wausau, Wisconsin
10: Mankato/North Mankato, Minnesota
9: Eau Claire, Wisconsin
8: Ames, Iowa
7: Fond du Lac, Wisconsin
6: La Crosse/Onalaska, Wisconsin
5: Fargo, North Dakota
4: Madison, Wisconsin
3: Green Bay, Wisconsin
2: Oshkosh/Neenah, Wisconsin
1: Appleton, Wisconsin
What the heck is going on in Wisconsin? Missing for me were states–forget cities in those states–like New York and New Jersey, Louisiana and Florida. That demonstrates prejudice on my part, I know, but I live in NJ and I know there is lots of drinking going on here. The other three states I thought would have been “good guesses.” Obviously, not so. So much for stereotypes. Sometimes it’s good to be wrong.
My search for a relationship between so-called drunk cities and veterans suicide came up blank. There are many reports and reliable statistics on veterans issues such as PTSD and suicide, but I could not find a single data point on location. From this I conclude that those issues are everywhere–no state is immune, no region of the country is more or less susceptible than any other. From that I conclude that we all have to be on the lookout for signs of depression in our vets–our brothers and sisters, cousins and neighbors.
For veterans and families in crisis, a 24-hour national hotline is set up at (800) 273-8255.
The reporting above on so-called drunkest cities also cites anecdotal evidence as to why these cities were named and ranked. I am glad the report did not ever use the word “veteran.” It simply did not apply.
So, while alcohol abuse permeates our culture–or maybe because it permeates our culture–drinking per se and its effects affect many individuals and their families. But I think it is a good sign that my mini-research project turned up not an inkling of evidence that those 20 self-proclaimed drinking hot spots had anything to do with suicide rates, military or civilian.
The National Institute of Mental Health offers coping strategies for dealing with PTSD. You will notice that “drinking” is not one of them. Visit their site for explanations of all recommendations.
- Find information on PTSD.
- See a therapist.
- Lean on others.
- Join a support group.
- Learn relaxation skills.
- Monitor your symptoms.
- Identify and take part in positive activities.
- Use healthy distraction.
- Write about your feelings and thoughts.
- Improve your physical health.
- Be spiritual.
Some of these work for me, some do not, some I have never tried. If you or someone you know has or might possibly have PTSD, get help. It works.