The United States Army has been attempting over the past few years to address issues that lead members of the military to kill themselves, but the latest figures indicate success is far from an accomplished goal. As many as 121 soldiers commtted suicide in 2007 wich is an increase of 20% over the figures for 2006. The number who have tried to commit sicide or injured themselves for some other reason jumped six-fold in the last several years– from 350 in 2002 to about 2,100 incidents last year. These incidents come despite a host of efforts to improvemental health care that arises from being deployed and redeployed over an extended period of time. According to Col. Elspeth Ritchie, psychiatry consultant to the Army surgeon general, “We have been perturbed by the rise despite all of our efforts.”
Statistically, the rate of suicide per 100,000 men has risen from a low of 9.1% in 2001 to a high of 17.5% in 2006. Most probably long extended separation from spouse, children and family has been a factor resulting in attempts at suicide. Orindarily, people don’t attempt suicide as a result of direct encounter with combat, but it more often occurs during periods of depression brought on by personal and family issues.
Senator John McCain recently said American troops might be in the Middle East for about another “100 years.” If so, we can expect continued mental health issues.
A record number of soldiers have killed themselves this year–109–according to Army statistics. The sharp rise in the number of suicides is partially attributed to longer deployments which create additional stress upon individuals and families. The highest previous number of Army suicides since 1990 was in 1992– a period when the army was twenty percent larger in size. A total of 109 suicides would equal a rate of 18.4 per 100,000, the highest since the army began counting in 1980. The civilian rate was 11 per 100,000 in 2004. Senator Pat Murray, noted, “I’m surprised at the suicide increase. But when we’re not doing everything we can to deal with mental health, when we know the Army is under such stress, it’s not a surprise. It has to be a wake up call.”
There have been repeated complaints from a variety of mental health, political, and social groups concerning the enormous stress being placed on fighting men and women who serve two or three deployments in Iraq with no end in sight. The armed forces either have to cease such extensive fighting or face the reality of introducing a draft in order to alleviate the stress imposed on those in combat.
Posted in Human Rights, Iraq War, Military, Politics, United States, US Foreign Policy, Veterans, War, World News
Tagged Army suicides, deployments, Iraq War