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Thread: US Military Suicides Rise, Despite Prevention Efforts

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    US Military Suicides Rise, Despite Prevention Efforts

    McClatchy Newspapers

    Eight years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq have etched indelible scars on the psyches of many of the nation's servicemen and women, and the U.S. military is losing a battle to stem an epidemic of suicides in its ranks. Despite calls by top Pentagon officials for a sea change in attitudes about mental health, millions of dollars in new suicide prevention programming and thousands of hours spent helping soldiers suffering from what often are euphemistically dubbed "invisible wounds," the military is losing ground. The Department of Defense Friday reported that there were 160 reported active-duty Army suicides in 2009, up from 140 in 2008. Of these, 114 have been confirmed, while the manner of death in the remaining 46 remains to be determined.
    Continued: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/01/1...fforts-us.html

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    Voluntary & Mandatory Suicide

    That's a real shame.
    When I was in the service suicides were quite common as well. One of my guys hung himself in the Boatswain Locker and 2 or 3 others attempted suicide. That was just the 4.5 years I was on a ship of 300 sailors. The previous 1.5 years of training held even more suicide attempts, but I didn't really know the people so I can't remember how many or who they were. I just know it happened a lot.

    Even before the war, suicide was very high in the Navy because the low quality of life combined with maximum sustained stress was just too much for people to handle. Years on a ship, which is always out to sea for either drilling, cruises, other missions or war, living quarters far inferior to prison, zero freedom and slave-like, non-stop work, perpetual emotional alarmism artificially induced is a rough time indeed. Every sailor constantly fantasizes about the day he/she gets out. I know I certainly did.

    War-time was actually less stressful. Sounds backward, but it was true to my experience. This is where the "perpetual emotional alarmism artificially induced" pays off. War-time was much more relaxed. That's not to say we weren't vigilant. We certainly were. We just didn't have some superior yelling in our ear criticizing every move we made. War-time, was when we actually did our jobs for real and it was a great relief from the artificially induced maximum stress experienced during training. I suppose that's how it is suppose to be and a very interesting training method.
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    Thanks for that insight into life in one branch of the military that others cannot possibly know unless having experienced it first-hand.

    I often read headlines such as “1000th US Soldier killed in Iraq/Afghanistan” and wonder what lies behind them. For a start, it’s estimated that for every death there are about 15 injuries, some of them quite horrendous (to the point where you wonder if the casualty wouldn’t be better off dead!) and then there’s all the mental trauma, sometimes lasting years, that is difficult to even calculate. Even things such as hearing impairment are rife in the Army with over half of those involved in a sustained gunfight likely to be permanently affected.

    All in all, I think the number of people serving for any length of time in the military who don't suffer health problems as a result is quite low, and suicide rates for ex-soldiers are also much higher than the norm. It's a damned hard job and I admire what they do, albeit with some reservations about where (and for whom) they’re doing it!

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    I have been an American Combat Warrior for two decades now - won't go into it beyond that... posting this far from my home. Suicide is a problem now more than ever for a few reasons: a) much lower recruiting standards for new Soldiers/Sailors/Marines/Airman (need to meet recruiting goals in a time when service has been more lethal) -- much less capable for rugged service than in the late 1980s Cold War era; b) the generation that grew up in the 90s (for the most part) is soft, sees no dishonor in quitting, really had no social role models to model themselves after or aspire to (Clint Eastwood's, John Wayne's, etc...), life is spent on the internet and gaming -- physically and mentally weak as a whole (not all, but collectively) -- not a rugged frontier group used to being bruised or injured during outside activity; c) advertising and bringing suicide to light can also have an adverse/reverse effect - young military warriors know that their leaders will react and with a sense of purpose for someone with a suicidal expression -- sense of celebrity or attention is easily available for someone displaying these behavior patterns. Lastly, I have witnessed suicides receive almost equal attention for military honors in rememberance ceremonies as for warriors killed in action for whatever reason (everyone gets a trophy mentality) -- so there is an expectation set for others contemplating suicide with the idea of going out like a hero, when they really just leave behind the legacy of sorrow and that of a loser. Sign of our societal times and makes me more aware of how I raise my son and daughters.

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