As of this week, the number of suicides among active duty soldiers who have died as a result of self inflicted wounds has risen to 140 which equals the number who killed themselves during the entire 2008 year. The army insists it has been working diligently to educate military personnel about the need to seek mental health assistance in order to reduce the number of suicides. Officials are still stumped about what is driving this historically high rates across the military force. Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiareli could only comment, “each suicide is unique as the individuals themselves.” A mystery is why about one-third of suicides are by men who have not been in actual combat.
There is no question that each suicide is a unique decision and no one can ever state for certainty why person X or Y took his or her own life. But, certainly, there has never been a situation in which members of the military were repeatedly returned to combat over and over again without real rest time at home. The ongoing deployments among a relatively small fighting force of 1.5 million must be a factor. It is not like WWIi when over 12 million served in the armed forces which gave each person a sense they were part of a societal effort. Today, the brave men and women of our armed forces have been left alone to fight by 300,000,00 Americans. This must impact on their mental outlook of life–and death?