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The Risk Of Ignoring The PTSD Epidemic: Mortality, Money & Morals

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Healing Girl

Changing the way we talk and think about mental wellness is a risk worth taking. This is me, while I was trapped by agoraphobia brought on by PTSD. Just a few months later, I would face the idea of suicide, not once, but three times.

I’m Annmarie – a busy woman juggling a career, starting up a business, being a mom, wife, daughter and friend. In 2003, I had a mental meltdown and couldn’t hide from PTSD anymore. I gathered all I knew about life coaching, psychology and PTSD and decided to fight.

What I found out was focusing entirely on my mind was making it worse, seeing my therapist once a week wasn’t enough, and I couldn’t make my regular doctor understand the physical pain I was feeling. Then, I discovered a holistic approach that incorporates an entire team of helpful professionals and support people. In three short years, I was 100% symptom free and have been for almost nine years. But you might be surprised to know . . .

Starbucks saved my life.

Join me here at PTSD Relief for a series of four articles that talk about making real change happen in healing the lives of PTS survivors – veteran and non-veteran alike.  Like what you hear? Pass it along to a friend or colleague. We’re reaching out, hoping to walk through an open door. Plus, you never know who’s reading . . .

 Part Two

Risk more than others think safe.

~ Howard Schultz, CEO Starbucks


Do we really need another cause to support? Think about all the pink – everything from ribbons to Campbell’s Soup to car shows and marathon runs. Like cancer, Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) is an epidemic eating away the soul of America. Healing it is more than a cause: it’s a responsibility. When people suffer the aftereffects of society’s addiction to violence and stigma, we have a responsibility to make it right – especially when it comes to women, children and those who protect our freedom.

Veteran suicides are estimated at 22 per day – nearly one death every hour. Clearly, something needs to be done about PTS. The truth is, no one really knows how many men, women and young adults are taking their lives, since statistical data collected by the Center for Disease Control and the U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs, is two years or more behind.

Plus, who are they counting? What about the family members, friends and co-workers of those intimately acquainted with a PTS survivor? And what about non-veterans who struggle with PTS because of natural disasters, such as the Oso landslide, or sexual assault, child molestation, and violent crime? What we DO know is for every person who takes their life, 12 people harm themselves severely enough to require medical attention. And of course, we know the out-of-date statistics. The bottom line is there’s A LOT of people weighed down by the burden of PTS.

Watch The Uncounted, an on-line documentary by CNN about those not being recognized in the bigger picture of healing PTS. You’ll read, hear and see compelling stories from a spouse, a parent, a teenager and a sibling, each living with someone they love who also happens to be struggling under the weight of Post Traumatic Stress.

Watch The Uncounted Here

The Economic Impact of Suicide, Attempts and Post Traumatic Stress

We also know the monetary cost. Yes, someone counted. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention estimates the following:

  • The economic cost of suicide death in the U.S. is estimated to be $34 billion annually. With the burden of suicide falling most heavily on adults of working age, the cost to the economy results almost entirely from lost wages and work productivity.
  • Non-fatal injuries due to self-harm cost an estimated $3 billion annually for medical care. Another $5 billion is spent for indirect costs, such as lost wages and productivity.
  • . . . those harming themselves made an estimated total of more than 650,000 hospital visits related to injuries sustained in one or more separate incidents of self-harm behavior.
  • . . . many suicide attempts go unreported or untreated, and surveys suggest that at least one million people in the U.S. each year engage in intentionally inflicted self-harm.

The folks over at PTSD United have gathered the most current statistics, but keep in mind, these numbers are 2-3 years old.

According to the National Institutes of Health, Department of Veteran Affairs, and Sidran Institute, the societal and economic burden of PTSD is extremely heavy. Important facts, numbers, and statistics include:

  • The annual cost to society of anxiety disorders is estimated to be significantly over $42.3 billion, often due to misdiagnosis and under treatment. This includes psychiatric and non-psychiatric medical treatment costs, indirect workplace costs, mortality costs, and prescription drug costs.
  • People with PTSD have among the highest rates of healthcare service use. People with PTSD present with a range of symptoms, the cause of which may be overlooked or misdiagnosed as having resulted from past trauma.
  • PTSD affects about 7.7 million American adults in a given year, though the disorder can develop at any age including childhood.
  • Almost 50% of all outpatient mental health patients have PTSD.
  • According to VA, experts estimate that up to 20 % of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans, up to 10 % of Gulf War veterans, and up to 30 % of Vietnam War veterans have experienced PTSD
  • In the past year alone the number of diagnosed cases in the military jumped 50% and that’s only the reported and diagnosed cases.
  • 17% of combat troops are women; 71% of female military personnel develop PTSD due to sexual assault within the ranks.

– See more at:


Prefer pictures? Here’s a representation of just how PTS has gotten out of hand.

PTSD Statistics


stats-pie70% of adults in the U.S. have experienced some type of traumatic event at least once in their lives. This equates to approximately 223.4 million people



Up to 20% of these people go on to develop PTSD. As of today, that equates to approximately 31.3 million people who were or are struggling with PTSD.


stats-statesAn estimated 8% of Americans − 24.4 million people − have PTSD at any given time. That is equal to the total population of Texas.


stats-womenAn estimated one out of every nine women develops PTSD, making them about twice as likely as men.




Real Solutions

Let’s get to the heart of the problem. Post Traumatic Stress is driving people in large numbers to move away from getting the help they need, toward the heartbreak of taking their own life. The solution is to take care of the problem – namely, eliminate the violence that causes PTS. As a result, the care of those who’ve experienced a natural disaster or other ‘organic’ circumstance resulting in PTS, becomes a number that’s manageable. However, world peace is highly unlikely.

If solving the problem at the cause isn’t possible, then repairing the damage done by the problem is the best we can hope for. Next week, I’ll introduce a low-cost, barrier-free solution to the PTSD epidemic. But I’ll be honest with you. It’s going to take compassionate, understanding, empathetic people who’ve found victory over their own struggle with PTS to come forward and partner with us.

The only way to overcome another’s fear of reaching out is to empower oneself in a way that makes you worthy of reaching out to. Therein lies the solution. Misinformed people may be the barrier to saving the life of someone you love, but an army of informed, healed survivors can just as easily be the solution. If this rings true for you, reach out in the comments below. Let me know you’re willing to take a stand in honor of someone you love. We’ll be recruiting soon.

Even a proven, cost effective, easily accessible cure for PTS isn’t enough, when the number one reason people don’t reach out for help is the way you and I think and talk about mental health. It’s called stigma. The fear of how others might treat them, what others will think, or say, is the biggest obstacle to a person healing from PTS, the biggest obstacle to keeping families from being ripped apart by suicide, the biggest obstacle to saving tax payers billions. And guess what? That’s something we can fix.

Stay tuned . . .



Are you a survivor? Tried everything you can think of to heal from Post Traumatic Stress? Tell us about your frustrations and successes in the comments below.

Remember . . . you never know who’s reading. Let Howard Schultz, and others supporting PTSD research, know where their dollars can best contribute to practical, effective tools that not only heal PTS, but transform survival into a life worth living.

Need to catch up on Part One? Read Starbucks Coffee, The PTSD Epidemic & You right here.



2 responses »

  1. Pingback: Should The Middle Class Clean Up The Veterans Administration’s PTSD Mess? | PTSD Relief

  2. Pingback: Join The Conversation: PTSD Solutions, Starbucks Coffee & Facebook | PTSD Relief

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