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Thank You, Ronda Rousey, For Speaking Up About Suicide
Former UFC champion Ronda Rousey made headlines earlier this week after she candidly revealed that she contemplated suicide after her stunning upset loss to Holly Holm this past November.
Speaking to Ellen Degeneres on Feb. 16, Rousey admitted that when she was in the hospital after the fight, she was literally thinking about killing herself, questioning, “What do I do anymore? No one gives a shit about me anymore without this.”
Her candor was met with mixed reactions from fellow MMA fighters, former boxing heavyweight champs, and, of course, a myriad of different people in the comment sections of blogs and articles throughout the internet.
However, the ripples in discourse that this powerful revelation has stirred up is both refreshing and desperately needed, especially considering the lack of discussion surrounding mental health in this country and the suicide epidemic plaguing our veterans and active-duty service members.
Though some counts vary, post-9/11 veterans have a suicide rate 50% higher than their civilian counterparts, and almost one active-duty service member dies each day by suicide. This is a devastating problem within our warfighter community and why I believe Rousey’s comments were pivotal in continuing the national dialogue about suicide.
When I was perusing the comments sections on different articles I was excited to see very supportive comments regarding her statement. However, they were certainly in the minority. What was more prevalent and pervasive were comments from a plethora of armchair psychologists stating things such as:
“This woman needs professional help to make her understand how lucky she is…”
“This is honestly incredibly disrespectful to people who actually battle depression... The fact that she considered SUICIDE after losing ONE FIGHT is just a slap in the face to all the people who really suffer from this. Pathetic.”
As a veteran who has contemplated suicide and has experienced the loss of fellow veterans to suicide, I could not disagree more.
Arguably the most important thing Rousey did by candidly discussing her suicidal ideations on national television was break down the barrier surrounding suicide by humanizing it. Her statement was certainly not “a slap in the face,” rather more like a warm embrace for other people who have felt the same way.
In a 2014 survey released by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, 40% of respondents knew at least one post-9/11 veteran who has died by suicide and 47% know at least one that has attempted suicide. And considering some units are hit disproportionately with members dying by suicide, and suicide numbers for female veterans are “staggering,” the most important things for suicidal veterans to understand is that they are not alone. Without discussing this with other people, especially those closest to you, the road to recovery is long and obstructed.
Similarly, not only was it important for Rousey to be so vulnerable during her interview, it is extremely helpful that she is perceived as a “universally acknowledged badass.” Sound familiar? The United States has the best military in the history of the world, built by 200-plus years of veterans fighting bravely for their country, which is why so many of us hear things similar to Rousey’s criticism.
Ask any veteran who has lost a fellow vet to suicide and it’s eerie how similar their responses are. Most have to explain that the victim of suicide was the toughest person in their unit, the baddest on the battlefield, or the most squared-away person they knew, while having to reconcile why they didn’t know what was going on inside the head of the person they admired.
Veterans often go out of their way to avoid discussing their struggles because they are more concerned with how we will be perceived and are afraid to be stigmatized for having an invisible wound. This will continue until our veterans feel safe enough to be more open about their struggles with suicidal ideations and leading the charge to change the status quo, like when Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Dakota Meyer bravely discussed a suicide attempt in his harrowing memoir.
The backlash against Rousey for discussing this incredibly sensitive topic insinuates that there is a right time and circumstance for suicide, but this wasn’t it. However, nothing could be further from the truth. People with suicidal ideations shouldn’t be looking for justification, they should be looking for help, and unless we, as a society, begin to tear down the wall that prevents us from treating a mental health problem differently than a physical health problem, we will continue to lose some of the bravest women and men who have fought for our country.
The leader of a Chicago-area street gang has been arrested and charged with attempting to aid the ISIS terrorist group, the Department of Justice said Friday.
Jason Brown, also known as "Abdul Ja'Me," allegedly gave $500 on three separate occasions in 2019 to a confidential informant Brown believed would then wire it to an ISIS fighter engaged in combat in Syria. The purported ISIS fighter was actually an undercover law enforcement officer, according to a DoJ news release.
My brother earned the Medal of Honor for saving countless lives — but only after he was left for dead
"As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night."
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
Air Force Master Sgt. John "Chappy" Chapman is my brother. As one of an elite group, Air Force Combat Control — the deadliest and most badass band of brothers to walk a battlefield — John gave his life on March 4, 2002 for brothers he never knew.
They were the brave men who comprised a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) that had been called in to rescue the SEAL Team 6 team (Mako-30) with whom he had been embedded, which left him behind on Takur Ghar, a desolate mountain in Afghanistan that topped out at over 10,000 feet.
As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night. After many delays, the mission should and could have been pushed one day, but Szymanski ordered the team to proceed as planned, and Britt "Slab" Slabinski, John's team leader, fell into step after another SEAL team refused the mission.
But the "plan" went even more south when they made the rookie move to insert directly atop the mountain — right into the hands of the bad guys they knew were there.
Sen. Rick Scott is backing a bipartisan bill that would allow service members to essentially sue the United States government for medical malpractice if they are injured in the care of military doctors.
The measure has already passed the House and it has been introduced in the Senate, where Scott says he will sign on as a co-sponsor.
"As a U.S. Senator and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, taking care of our military members, veterans and their families is my top priority," the Florida Republican said in a statement.
Little girls everywhere will soon have the chance to play with a set of classic little green Army soldiers that actually reflect the presence of women in the armed forces.