Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Army Suicides to Set New Record

The suicide rate among our troops is more than double the national average.  Something is clearly wrong with the mental health services we are providing our troops.

military-suicides Suicides in the U.S. Army will hit a new high this year, a top general said on Tuesday in a disclosure likely to increase concerns about stress on U.S. forces ahead of an expected buildup in Afghanistan.

The findings, released as President Barack Obama inches toward a decision to send up to 40,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, show the number of active-duty suicides so far in 2009 has already matched last year's record of 140 deaths.

"We are almost certainly going to end the year higher than last year," General Peter Chiarelli, the Army's vice chief of staff, told a Pentagon briefing.

"This is horrible, and I do not want to downplay the significance of these numbers in any way."

Another 71 soldiers committed suicide after being taken off active duty in 2009 -- nearly 25 percent more than the end-year total for 2008. Some had returned home only weeks before taking their own lives.

The figures applied only to the U.S. Army. Data from other branches of the armed services was not immediately available.

Chiarelli cautioned against generalizing about the causes of the suicides, or assuming links to combat stress on forces stretched thin by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He said the causes were still unclear and noted that roughly a third of the soldiers who took their own lives had never been deployed abroad.

The Army recently revealed that about one in five lower rank soldiers suffered mental health problems like depression.

The latest data and this month's shooting spree at a base in Fort Hood, Texas attributed to an Army psychiatrist have raised new questions about the effects of combat stress and the state of the military's mental health system… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Reuters>

If the General releasing the news says not to link the suicide rate to combat stress or forces stretched this, that virtually guarantees that is the first place we should look.  If one third of the cases had never been deployed, would not stress over seeing comrades return as basket cases and knowing they were next raise stress levels?  Morale stinks, largely because our soldiers have been overused in wars of aggression without letup.  They could not even feel safe in the shower.  Furthermore, any health care system that could continue to employ Major Hasan as a psychiatrist as long as they did id broken.  Our troops are too valuable not to fix it, and if the GOP keeps getting in the way, roll over them.


the walking man said...

This is one of the statistics that should be grave cause for concern. there is a spill over that we saw from the Viet Nam veterans that to this day still affects those men and women.

Grung_e_Gene said...

No one cares.

the walking man said...

Not true grunge

TomCat said...

Mark, I completely agree. A lot of the prisoners with whom I work are Vietnam vets who would not have ended up in prison were it not for the effects of PTSD.

Gene, like Mark, I disagree. If nobody cares, then why did I care enough to post this?