I-Search: What I Learned

    My first research question is what causes some veterans to commit suicide. I have found a lot of answers to this question regarding why veterans commit suicide. I have found that this issue can be caused by untreated mental illnesses such as depression, bipolar disorder, and uncontrollable anger. Other causes for veterans’ suicide include survivor’s guilt and substance abuse. The two main sources this information comes from are articles from a GALE database. The first article is titled Suicide Rate Reflects Toll of Army Life. This article has given me some insight about mental illnesses and how they affect soldiers. The second article is titled Shocking Suicide Toll on Combat Veterans. It has expanded my knowledge of depressed veterans and how depression leads to suicide in many soldiers. The answers to this question have sparked deep thought in me. Before this project, I assumed that veterans would commit suicide because of the stress of having to protect a country or the guilt of killing other humans. I never thought that there was more to it such as substance abuse or mental illnesses. Now I know not to make assumptions because there is often more to an issue than what is on the surface. This first research question is the most important and thought-provoking to me and I think it has been answered well through my research.

    Next, I wanted to find out  what the statistics of veterans’ suicide are. The answers to this question amaze me. I have found out that close to 17 veterans commit suicide daily and, over a year, that number adds up to over 6,000 suicides. I have also discovered that half of veterans with suicidal thoughts and tendencies do not seek help for their problems out of fear of being judged. Perhaps the most shocking statistic I found was that during the Vietnam War, the number of veterans’ suicide greatly exceeded the number of deaths caused during combat. The two main information sources I used to answer this question are my expert interview and a GALE article titled Growing Public Health Crisis of Domestic Violence and Suicides by Returning Veterans. I asked my expert specifically about the statistics of veterans’ suicide and she gave me a lot of insight on the issue. The GALE article contains a lot of statistics such as the daily number of veterans’ suicide. My thoughts about the statistics of veterans’ suicide are mainly about how shockingly high they are. I was surprised when I found out that 17 service men and women commit suicide every day. I was even more surprised when the article said that over 6,000 suicides occur every year and I calculated that number myself just to make sure. My findings on the statistics of veterans’ suicide are both shocking and twistedly accurate.
    For my third research question, I wanted to know what efforts are in place to iron out this issue. I found that there are many active endeavors working to reduce the number of veterans’ suicide. There are Veterans’ Affairs hospitals that offer therapy and medications to help veterans deal with suicidal thoughts and tendencies. Also, there is special training that soldiers can go through that educates them about the warning signs of potential suicide and how to help someone who shows these signs. This training also teaches soldiers how to better cope with anxiety, guilt, depression, and loneliness so they can reduce the risk for suicide in themselves and ask for help if they feel they need it. The two main sources this information comes from are my expert interview and an article from a GALE database. Since my expert is a psychologist at a VA hospital, she is fully qualified to give me all the information I need about therapy and medication. The GALE article is titled Army Plans New Training After Record Number of Suicides and it is about the new training that soldiers go through to recognize signs of suicide. Although I think that these efforts were a great start to reducing the rate of veterans’ suicide, I know it isn’t enough and more has to be done. I think the awareness of the issue should be raised so that family members and friends of soldiers also know when someone is on the verge of suicide. Also, society should be more accepting of people with mental illnesses so service men and women are not afraid to step forward and seek professional help from a psychiatrist or therapist. The efforts that are already in place such as therapy and special training are a start, but more should be done.
    There are several things I think I did well in this project. Fist of all, I think I did very well with selecting images for my Presentation Zen. I did not use literal representations of veterans’ suicide and instead looked for a deeper meaning in other images. Also, I have a good variety of images. I did not repeatedly use images of soldiers, depressed individuals, or therapy sessions. Another thing I think I did well was interviewing my expert. With help from Ms. Hamilton, I was able to locate an e-mail address I used to contact Dr. Daniella David. I got a quick response from her and she was happy to answer the thorough and well-thought questions I had. Lastly, I think I did well on the playlist I put together as a multigenre artifact. I put a lot of time and thinking into selecting the songs I thought fit best with this issue. The songs fit around a variety of themes associated with veterans’ suicide including homesickness and fallen soldiers. All in all, I think I did well on this whole project, but those three aspects were the best in my opinion.
    There are a few things I would have done differently if given the chance. First, I would have used more class time for this project. I found myself doing a lot of this project during my lunch or at home. I feel like if I had used my class time more wisely, I would not have had to use as much time outside class to get this project up to par. Another thing I would do differently is my Netvibes page. I do not think I used Netvibes as well as I should have. If I had put more effort into finding good elements for my Netvibes page, I think I would have had a better learning experience. Lastly, I would have my presentation on time. I did not pay attention to the date for which I signed up to deliver my presentation and ended up being a day late. If I had written down the date and realized that I was a day short on time, I would have finished my presentation that night and had it on time. If I had done these things differently, I think I would have had a much better learning experience and an outstanding final product.
    Overall, I would give myself an A on this project. Even though I think I could have used my class time more wisely and my presentation was a day late, I think I did my best on every other aspect of the project. All of my research reflections and reading blogs were well thought out and posted on time. I had an analytical and thorough approach to my reading blogs and I did my best to choose specific passages from the book on which to reflect. My Google Site is complete and has been kept up on a daily basis. I updated the daily log and had my I-Search elements posted on time. Also, I improved my research skills from last semester. Last semester, I only used articles from GALE databases for my sources. This semester, I have sources that include podcasts, videos, and journals. I improved my business letter writing skills as well. Since we did the expert interviews, I was able to greatly enhance this skill and ended up with an exceptional, informative interview. Another reason I would give myself an A is because my multigenre artifacts and notes were very well-done. I put a lot of thought and effort into all of my artifacts and made sure that they fit well around veterans’ suicide. Also, I have thorough notes on all of them, which is an improvement from last semester when I failed to make any notes. One last thing I think is deserving of an A is how well I answered my research questions. I used good research skills to find information sources that gave the best insight on what I wanted to learn. I think my deep interest in veterans’ suicide is one reason I was so thorough in my research. I really wanted to make sure I covered every part of all my research questions. All in all, I think I did exceptionally well on this project, even with a few faults.
    My Netvibes and Google Site say a lot about me as a learner and a researcher. My Google Site informs the audience that I am researching veterans’ issues and, as one digs deeper into my site, my research further unravels. The I-Search pages tell the most about my researching experience. The What I Know section tells about how I got interested in the topic and it portrays how little I knew about veterans’ suicide at the beginning of this project. My research questions section tells about what I wanted to know about the issue and how deeply I thought about almost every aspect of veterans’ suicide. The works cited page on both digital elements tells about the kind of sources I have used to gain information. One can easily see what databases and pathfinders I used to find the articles, podcasts, and journals. Finally, the information I found was portrayed in my final presentation and the multigenre artifacts. As for my Netvibes page, I think it also tells a lot because my blog posts are on it. My blog posts and research reflections tell so much about how I have progressed as a learner by expressing new research skills and triumphs. My Google Site and Netvibes page tell the whole story about this learning experience and how I have advanced as a researcher. 
    
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~ by kristinsundvall on May 14, 2010.

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