Friday, January 30, 2009

US Army Reporting Record High Suicides

CNN and other news outlets are reporting that 2008 and 2007 saw record highs for Military Personal killing themselves. The 2008 rate was 20.2 per 100,000 which is much higher than the civilian rate. This translates 128 suicides last year with a number of deaths still being investigated.

The deaths appear to be fairly evenly distributed among soldiers in the various stages of deployment and post tour.

It surprised me to learn that the US Military only started tracking this information around 1980. I imagine the rate during the Vietnam era was high as well.

In keeping with military tradition, the officials don't understand why their prevention programs are not working and promise to study the problem.

Some informal suggestions why soldiers give in to despair:

  • Mental illness is ignored and regarded as a stigma, unamerican and unmanly.
  • Their Command-in-Chief lied about the mission and created a deep social schism.
  • Unable to get needed therapy because of neo-conservative attitudes to funding.
  • Financial. Not enough pay. Not helping sick soldiers with their debt.
  • Facing an enemy in Iraq who hated them and played dirty.
I'm afraid that most of these soldiers will end up being nameless victims. The military tends to not honor or talk about these types of deaths. In many ways society failed these men and it is an added injury that they are not honored. I think these same problems are emerging in the Canadian Military. Please recommend this post

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