The U.S. is Failing its Troops
January 26, 2011 9:58 AM   Subscribe

For the second year in a row, the U.S. Military has lost more troops to suicide than it has to combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Previous posts regarding PTSD)

As the article notes, the numbers require some scrutiny, as different branches of the military use different standards for reporting, particularly as they relate to reservists and whether a suicide occurs while a soldier is on active duty.

This week, President Obama announced several new initiatives to support soldiers and their families, with military suicides and veteran homelessness being specifically targeted.

Rep. Rush Holt (NJ) had previously introduced a Bill requiring check-in phone calls to reservists returning from deployment every 90 days. However, efforts to include the bill in the 2010 Defense spending appropriation bill were blocked by Sen. John McCain (AZ).
posted by dry white toast (57 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by Pecinpah at 10:00 AM on January 26, 2011


Ugh. Remember when McCain was viewed as the "good" Republican? What a fucking asshole.
posted by kmz at 10:10 AM on January 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


'cuz if McCain could tough it out, so can they!
posted by HuronBob at 10:10 AM on January 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


This just makes me all kinds of angry. Why would McCain, the guy who used his military service and subsequent POW status for political gain, block this? The treatment of veterans in America is deplorable. It seems like it's somehow related to the crappy and unpopular wars they are engaged in, but it's still inexcusable. They do a job no one else wants to do for peanuts (service members on food stamps?) and when they return home they continue to get nothing.

My WWII vet father used to tell stories about men he met in the service who came out of hollows in Appalachia, guys who got their first pair of shoes when they enlisted in the military or got drafted. It's still a way for poor people to get ahead, but the way we chew them up and spit them out is the shame of our nation.
posted by fixedgear at 10:11 AM on January 26, 2011 [15 favorites]


For the second year in a row, the U.S. Military has lost more troops to suicide than it has to combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

That's a meaningless stat if you think 2 seconds about it. To put it another way, the military has gotten so good, the number of suicides is higher than actual loses.

This doesn't mean the military shouldn't be investigating and working on ways to bring down the suicides. But the obvious and simple minded slant of the article, that the military should be having more combat deaths than suicides and if it doesn't something is wrong, seems really strange to me.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:16 AM on January 26, 2011 [13 favorites]


I wonder how much has to do with the volunteer nature of the military. As a statistical group soldiers do not represent the general population.
posted by three blind mice at 10:19 AM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


.

for combat, for suicides
posted by NoraReed at 10:23 AM on January 26, 2011


[McCain] said, "Well, maybe you need this in New Jersey, but we don't need this in Arizona."

Mighty thoughtful of you, Senator. Way to look out for your fellow soldier. Asshole.
posted by NationalKato at 10:24 AM on January 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


In fairness to McCain (not that I particularly want to be fair to him) knowing the military culture, I think those phone calls would have been pretty useless.

Someone needs to come up with some way for the military culture itself to communicate it is okay to ask for help.

I was at Green Ramp when the 27th Engineering Battalion came back (well, part of it, anyway.) These were the people who walked the roads looking to find and get rid of roadside bombs. It is one of the most dangerous jobs in the military (they lost 8 troops in one MONTH last year.) Before they deplaned, the waiting spouses, relatives and friends were told explicitly of the resources available to them, and what to do if their loved ones showed signs of problems. IIRC they also talked to them after deplaning. They are already doing a lot to try to help soldiers but again, the soldiers HAVE to be willing to ASK for and get the help without fearing their careers would be affected, or that they are wusses, etc.

I think as big an issue as PTSD might be, another big issue probably is family strain from all the deployments. Many of these guys are on their third, fourth or even fifth trip to the sandbox. It is a sad fact that many marriages do not survive due to infidelity. Many times the infidelity is that of the spouse back home, who is lonely, scared, and tempted. These kinds of issues can make a civilian suicidal sometimes-how much more a soldier who is already stressed to the max with a deployment or other military stresses?

It's a great big complicated mess and I don't think just passing a bill is going to fix it.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 10:25 AM on January 26, 2011 [16 favorites]


With every passing day, John McCain manages to disgrace himself and his military service more and more.
posted by KingEdRa at 10:26 AM on January 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


That's a meaningless stat if you think 2 seconds about it. To put it another way, the military has gotten so good, the number of suicides is higher than actual loses.

?

I don't think the point is to diminish the shrinking number of combat losses. It's to show the high number of suicides as an issue worth addressing. And if the number of suicides is higher than in the general population, it's not meaningless at all.
posted by Hoopo at 10:29 AM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is the rate of suicide amongst service members (say current and recently discharged in the past 3 years) higher than amongst the general population to be statistically significant?
posted by PenDevil at 10:29 AM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


the U.S. Military has lost more troops to suicide than it has to combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This is a completely meaningless statistic.

The United States has a suicide rate of 11.1 per 100,000 people.

There are 1.5 million people in the US military, so you'd expect (11.1/100000)*1500000 suicides in a year, or 167 or so.

There were 3-4 times that amount last year.

So, I'd say there is a problem, but the fact that there are more suicides than combat deaths has nothing to do with it.
posted by empath at 10:30 AM on January 26, 2011 [8 favorites]


Republicans love the troops until the troops need money or healthcare, then it's every man for himself.

Sometimes I think Republicans love those triangular folded flags more than actual, living troops.
posted by Avenger at 10:31 AM on January 26, 2011 [28 favorites]


The point of the "meaningless" statistic is to demonstrate that there sure are a lot of military suicides. Are you guys really having trouble with this?
posted by Mister_A at 10:37 AM on January 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Although, the military is disproportionally young and male, and there also might be other factors that contribute to higher suicide rates (such as more access to firearms).
posted by empath at 10:38 AM on January 26, 2011


That's a meaningless stat if you think 2 seconds about it.

I take your point here, but I think the power of the stat is that it starkly demonstrates how much of an issue suicide is for the military. It had never occurred to me that this could be the case. I doubt many people not closely associated with the military would be aware that this is the case.

I think those phone calls would have been pretty useless...the soldiers HAVE to be willing to ASK for and get the help.

I actually started from the same position as you on this bill, but you actually make a good argument in favour of it. Wouldn't the value of a call be that you aren't just leaving it up to the soldier to ask for help? This seems at least somewhat pro-active.
posted by dry white toast at 10:41 AM on January 26, 2011


The point of the "meaningless" statistic is to demonstrate that there sure are a lot of military suicides.

Why not use a statistic that means something? Such as "Soldiers are killing themselves at a rate 4 times higher than the general public?"

Suicides outnumbered deaths by hostile action every year from 1980 to 2002.
posted by empath at 10:43 AM on January 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


empath, wouldn't you have to account for the age and gender of the military population, i.e. predominantly younger and male (I assume) and compare against the rates for a similar group.

Even so, the story should be about the rate of suicide relative to the population. Comparing it to deaths in combat is dramatic, and insinuates that it's astronomically high, which it may or may not be.
posted by idb at 10:45 AM on January 26, 2011


Why would McCain, the guy who used his military service and subsequent POW status for political gain, block this?

SASQ: Because it would reflect well on Obama / the Democrats.

McCain is simply following the current Republican playbook; the merits of the policy -- even ones Republicans are on record as supporting -- are irrelevant.
posted by Gelatin at 10:46 AM on January 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


"Rep. Rush D. Holt, a New Jersey Democrat, says that members of the Individual Ready Reserve and other categories of citizen-soldiers do not receive a thorough screening for mental health issues when they return from deployments."

The stigma associated with mental health issues is probably a factor in preventing many people under stress from seeking help. Simply screening the population will only detect those who decide they need the help more than they can afford the stigma. People suffering from depression and other issues usually know what to say to avoid being diagnosed.

The stigma is a serious factor for people in the military. Any blemish on the record, anything that marks you as suspect, will affect your prospects for promotion and future assignments.

You'd think that once someone arrives at the point of being suicidal, they'd stop and question themselves about their future prospects - really, what good is your unblemished record when you are dead, right? Suicidal people don't think like that.

Suicide is nihilistic. People who aren't suicidal, but may be on the path to it, don't seek help because they think they don't need it, or are put off by the potential impact on their career - even if it's just a four year stint in the service. People who are suicidal are suicidal, and they feel like they are beyond help.

It's certainly a dilemma. It's worth studying. However, if you put in place a system that detects potential suicides before they occur, you can bet it will be problematic. Sort of like detecting crimes before they occur in Minority Report - the potential for false positives, and the resentment of valid positives who believe they are healthy, will be an issue.

I wish I had a less bleak outlook on it. Probably the best solution is to treat the morale and mental health of a unit (at each level) as a whole. There are demonstrable benefits to this, and the military has a pretty good grasp of this idea. I don't know if they still refer to it as MWR - Morale, Welfare, and Recreation, but that is supposed to address the issues of unhappiness and dissatisfaction, and to some extent, more serious issues.

Certainly the serial redeployment of limited volunteer forces is not helping.
posted by Xoebe at 10:46 AM on January 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


ack...should have previewed.
posted by idb at 10:46 AM on January 26, 2011


Because the idea that soldiers' depression and other psychological difficulties are more lethal than "the enemy" is a powerful one. It provokes a more visceral reaction than a dry comparison of death rates. It's a headline.
posted by Mister_A at 10:47 AM on January 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


Right, it's manipulative, dishonest bullshit.
posted by empath at 10:51 AM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


[McCain] said, "Well, maybe you need this in New Jersey, but we don't need this in Arizona."

Judging from your example, sir, I'd say you do.
posted by notsnot at 10:53 AM on January 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why would McCain, the guy who used his military service and subsequent POW status for political gain, block this?

Well, he was an officer. That's a different caste from the enlisted force, and since most officers enjoy a comfortable retirement or go on to good jobs in the civilian sector they are pretty much disconnected from what the grunts have to endure after their service.
posted by crapmatic at 10:53 AM on January 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


Violence begets violence begets violence begets violence . . .
posted by quadog at 10:54 AM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Or maybe it's an effective way to quickly give readers some perspective on the magnitude of a seldom talked-about problem, by comparing it to a well known occupational hazard of soldiering.
posted by Mister_A at 10:55 AM on January 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


I don't care to argue about statistics. One suicide is one too many.

Xoebe up there is correct. The military culture is such that most folks simply refuse to seek help. In fact, the military culture is one where you will hear soldiers, sailors, airman and marines tell each other to go kill themselves. Obviously they do not mean it literally but it is an incredibly common statement. Make of that what you will.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 11:17 AM on January 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Here's the problem:

The Army and Marine Corps rates used to be lower than the comparable civilian rate. For example, it was 9 per 100,000 among those who had served on active duty in the Army in 2001. But in 2008, by comparison, the Army suicide rate among those who had served on active duty was 20.2 per 100,000 people.

It isn't that the rates are absurdly high compared to the national average, it's that they've risen dramatically in a fairly short amount of time.
posted by Stagger Lee at 11:24 AM on January 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


How does our military's suicide rate compare to the suicide rates of other volunteer militaries around the world? That, to me, seems to be the most relevant comparison. I haven't been able to find that kind of comparison anywhere.
posted by gurple at 11:28 AM on January 26, 2011


Empath beat me to it. The important thing is whether or not military suicides are more common than civilian suicides. Another important consideration: is the rate of military suicides increasing? Depending on how you look at it, this could be considered great news! I mean, among other things, this suggests that the opposition is unable to inflict significant casualties. Don't we already know that to be the case?
posted by Edgewise at 11:30 AM on January 26, 2011



How does our military's suicide rate compare to the suicide rates of other volunteer militaries around the world? That, to me, seems to be the most relevant comparison. I haven't been able to find that kind of comparison anywhere.



Well, we're going through a similar thing in Canada.
posted by Stagger Lee at 11:31 AM on January 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Thank you, empath, for providing the necessary context for the reported statistic. I wish you were a reporter instead of the hack that wrote the article in the first link.
posted by Jacqueline at 11:48 AM on January 26, 2011


For the second year in a row, the U.S. Military has lost more troops to suicide than it has to combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Brandon Blatcher : That's a meaningless stat if you think 2 seconds about it. To put it another way, the military has gotten so good, the number of suicides is higher than actual loses.

I agree that it's meaningless in a real-world sense, but it's useful to illustrate that, while we have people in the line of fire every day, dealing with hot combat zones, we are better able to provide them with support against death, in foreign and uncontrolled environments than we are when they are back in the safety of the barracks (or home).

To me it demonstrates the disparity between the resources we spend on our soldiers when their boots are on as opposed to when they are off.

Or put another way: if they are safer in the field with people trying to kill them than they are in their own heads, we are doing something wrong.
posted by quin at 12:02 PM on January 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


Depending on how you look at it, this could be considered great news!

My immediate reaction to this was basically what Mister_A said and it seemed like a juxtaposition made with a fairly obvious intent to me. It's rhetoric, not science. I've been chalking up the "this stat is meaningless" comments to people who may have experience working with or studying statistics. But no, I don't think there are ways to look at suicides in the military as "great news!" unless we're looking at a reduction in overall numbers, which is in no way even hinted at here.

the obvious and simple minded slant of the article, that the military should be having more combat deaths than suicides and if it doesn't something is wrong

It's not saying it should, it's pointing out something that makes the number of suicides in the military look high by comparing the number of soldiers committing suicide to the number of soldiers that died in a war zone where people are trying to kill them with guns and grenades and rockets and roadside bombs. I'm a little surprised people don't see the fact suicides are higher than combat deaths as counter-intuitive and/or why these figures juxtaposed with each other might have some rhetorical value.
posted by Hoopo at 12:04 PM on January 26, 2011


I'm sorry, but it seems like a special kind of stupid that doesn't just intuitively get why it's an interesting piece of information (and in a sense, actual, meaningful new information) to a lot of people that our troops are currently dying more often by their own hand than in combat at a time when we've still got two-ish wars going on.

I don't know exactly what some are assuming is so dishonest or misleading about the facts being presented in this way (I think because these folks are drawing an incorrect inference about the intended point of the comparison of the two rates), and I'm as sensitive to the problem of bad reporting on statistics as anybody, but--well, never mind. This is a very silly derail that might have been offered more helpfully as a clarifying or qualifying footnote, rather than with over-the-top outrage about "dishonest manipulative bullshit."
posted by saulgoodman at 12:18 PM on January 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm sorry, but it seems like a special kind of stupid that doesn't just intuitively get why it's an interesting piece of information (and in a sense, actual, meaningful new information) to a lot of people that our troops are currently dying more often by their own hand than in combat at a time when we've still got two-ish wars going on.

Because more people in the military are usually dying by their own hand than through enemy action. I posted a link to statistics for the past 30 years, if you care to check. The wars are winding down, so it's now returning to the normal state of things.
posted by empath at 12:37 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Certain people seem to have issues when the legitimacy of certain institutions are challenged.

The really important statistics are this: the survival rate in the new wars is up to 90% from a pretty constant rate of 65-75% from WWII through Vietnam. However, the casualty rate remains the same, and is comparable with Vietnam, and according to this article:
Between 60% to 70% of wounds from this conflict are musculoskeletal, according to Lieutenant Commander Michael Mazurek, MC, USN, from the Naval Medical Center in San Diego, California. LCDR Mazurek discussed contemporary blast physics, including the high-speed chemical change of explosive to gas. The blast effect is complex, and includes the effects of pressure (overpressure), penetrating trauma (fragments and debris), blast wind and structural collapse, burns, and toxic inhalants. The primary blast effect mainly affects air-fluid interfaces, with orthopaedic trauma as a secondary or tertiary effect.
So what you have is the same ratio of people getting injured, and many more surviving, but with much more complicated recovery issues that the US government is not willing to pay for. Iraq and Afghanistan are returning more injured and psychologically broken men than ever before, and our government is failing to take care of them.

But all of that won't fit into a headline. If you care about the troops and want people to know that they are having a harder time when they return for combat, you pull out an interesting and true statistic that will pique people's interest, and hopefully rally public support for more funding for their recovery. And, good or bad, the fact that more serving troops are dying of suicide than combat is much more arresting than having quadruple the normal suicide rate.
posted by notion at 1:05 PM on January 26, 2011 [9 favorites]


Because more people in the military are usually dying by their own hand than through enemy action.

Well, I don't think that's usually the case in times of war. But even if it were, it would still be new, counter-intuitive information to most people to learn that.

I understand your point, empath. And I don't even dispute that your clarifications are useful and good ones.

But can't you also understand how the literal, true factual claim on its face--that US troops are dying at higher rates by their own hand than at the hands of their enemies at a time when the US is actively engaged in two major military projects--might be a significant, meaningful point on its own terms to a lot of people? Quin, among others, does a pretty good job of elaborating on that idea up-thread.

Your position--that the comparison of the two rates is meaningless for establishing the scope of the problem in absolute terms--may be technically correct, but it misses the point of the comparison in a crucial way. And what's more, as you, yourself, pointed out above, the deeper statistics actually do support the view that suicide rates among the enlisted have recently seen dramatic increases. So, something something... "poetic truth."

Or, on second thought, what notion said.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:20 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


On average, the suicide rate among the general populace of the U.S. is somewhere between 10-11 per 100,000 people. (source). Among armed forces, it's nearly double, at 20 per 100,000. (source). The numbers are from 2008--the most recent I could find.

Interestingly, the second article mentions that the armed forces suicide rate isn't too far off the civilian suicide rate when adjusted to match demographics. So I guess you can decide for yourselves if there is really any cause for alarm here. Perhaps we should be celebrating the lack of combat deaths, instead?
posted by erstwhile at 1:48 PM on January 26, 2011


One may even wonder if the desire to join the military might be considered somewhat suicidal....
posted by Redhush at 2:22 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, he was an officer. That's a different caste from the enlisted force, and since most officers enjoy a comfortable retirement or go on to good jobs in the civilian sector they are pretty much disconnected from what the grunts have to endure after their service.

This is simply not true for all but the highest officers. As both a current officer and previous enlisted sailor, deployment stress is found across the board. There are those enlisted that are forward thinking and arrange their post military careers very well. And then there are officers that dive off of a balcony for inexplicable reasons. In fact, part of the problem on the officer side is this "show no weakness, the men are watching" type mentality that puts an enormous psychological burden on low-to-mid level officers and mid-to-high level enlisted. They very much expect you to be a continual fountain of discipline, morale, bravery, leadership, focus, faith, cheer, and strength. I've seen way too many officers break under that load.

(This does not take away from the massive stresses felt by the common enlisted serviceman; I'm only responding to the idea that an officer would not feel these same (or different) stressors).
posted by Lord Chancellor at 2:53 PM on January 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


One may even wonder if the desire to join the military might be considered somewhat suicidal....


One may wonder, but not usually the type of people that have joined the military.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 2:54 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


So the surest way to kill a U.S. soldier is -- to be a U.S. soldier!!
posted by stinkycheese at 3:52 PM on January 26, 2011


as the daughter of a vietnam vet who has been dealing with his PTSD and suicidal tendencies for 40 years, i have to say i find this thread incredibly infuriating. the statistical validity of the quoted article is besides the point. so what if it's a manipulative headline? isn't that the goal of a headline?

the bottom line is still this: we're failing our troops, spectacularly. we send them out into hell's fire, and leave them out in the cold when they come back. it's been happening for decades, and it's getting worse. i don't care how manipulative a headline may be -- if it gets people talking about it, that's a good thing.

so yeah, shame on mccain (of all people!) for blocking that bill. who are we to say whether phone calls wouldn't work? don't we owe it to them to try everything? my family had to do a full-on intervention with my father, taking him to a psych ward after he thought he saw snipers in the houseplants and threatened to drive into a wall. he was not mentally capable of asking for help, and he was lucky he had people around him to notice he needed it; i really don't think someone who's sitting alone with a gun in his mouth is going to ask for help.

they've given everything, and they deserve better.

.
posted by flyingsquirrel at 4:28 PM on January 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


as the daughter of a vietnam vet who has been dealing with his PTSD and suicidal tendencies for 40 years, i have to say i find this thread incredibly infuriating. the statistical validity of the quoted article is besides the point. so what if it's a manipulative headline? isn't that the goal of a headline?

Was the goal of the headline to get a bunch of people pointing out that it was a completely meaningless metric? If you want people to talk about something, it's probably best to start by providing useful information and not sensationalizing something which is undoubtedly tragic enough on its own.
posted by empath at 4:36 PM on January 26, 2011


Was the goal of the headline to get a bunch of people pointing out that it was a completely meaningless metric? If you want people to talk about something, it's probably best to start by providing useful information...

i actually don't think it's a "meaningless" metric, in fact i think it's pretty damn useful as a way of starting a conversation about this issue.

but no matter -- i'm glad to see you know what's best.
posted by flyingsquirrel at 4:46 PM on January 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


I work on an army base (although I am not in the military), and I went to the training session they held on suicide prevention a few months ago. It was well-meant. However, it's one thing to say there's no stigma on suicidal thoughts, and it's another thing for that to be true. The military people who attended the session were exhaustingly jokey about why they were there.
posted by acrasis at 4:57 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


He who jokes confesses.
posted by fixedgear at 5:04 PM on January 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


It's still a way for poor people to get ahead, but the way we chew them up and spit them out is the shame of our nation.
I've always been amazed that the very people forced to live in the worst parts of town, go to the worst schools, and who have it the hardest are always the first to step up, to defend that very system. They serve so that we don't have to. They offer to give up their lives so that we can be free. It is remarkably their gift to us. And all they ask for in return is that we never send them into harm's way unless it's absolutely necessary. Will they ever trust us again?
-- Michael Moore in Fahrenheit 9/11
posted by kirkaracha at 7:01 PM on January 26, 2011 [2 favorites]



Since the article failed to include any real statistics I had to do my own research on the matter.

According to the NIMH the national suicide rate in the US in 2007 was 11.3 deaths per 100,000 people with an additional 11 attempts per 100,000 people. *this was the most recent year I could find data for.

According to the Airforce Times Fifty-four airmen had killed themselves by Dec. 22 (2010) — a rate of 16.4 per 100,000. That’s the highest rate since 1994, when 68 airmen killed themselves at the same rate of 16.4 per 100,000

Thea Harvard School of Public Health suggests firearm access is a risk factor for suicicde

What I conclude from this research is that branches of the miliatary do indeed have a higher death rate from suicides than the national average. However, given that half of national suicide attempts fail and access to firearms is a risk factor for death from suicide...

Perhaps the military has a higher suicide death rate because they have easy access to guns.

Solution: prevent the military from having easy access to weapons.
posted by j03 at 11:42 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


j03, do you have numbers for the Army or the Marines? I don't really know, but I'd guess that the experiences they get in combat are a bit different than airmen.
posted by eye of newt at 11:59 PM on January 26, 2011


According to the NIMH the national suicide rate in the US in 2007 was 11.3 deaths per 100,000 people with an additional 11 attempts per 100,000 people. *this was the most recent year I could find data for.

According to the Airforce Times Fifty-four airmen had killed themselves by Dec. 22 (2010) — a rate of 16.4 per 100,000. That’s the highest rate since 1994, when 68 airmen killed themselves at the same rate of 16.4 per 100,000


The suicide rate for men in the US is 17.7 per 100,000
posted by empath at 7:46 AM on January 27, 2011


Apologize for going off on a tangent, but I am trying to find information about any prevention initiatives in the military. Creating awareness that such situations are common and is ok to ask for help can be more effective during initial training rather than a system which "profiles" returning soldiers for "inability to handle stress" (a ridiculous argument!).

At all levels, is there training, during basic or advanced, on handling difficult situations in combat? (such as having to fire on convoys which may carry innocent civilians or real simulations about the conditions there snipers and bombers in every second building).

Is there any idea why these suicides are occurring? Is it depression due to stress alone or is it due to lack of financial support systems? I f we know the causes better, we can focus our resources better.

I am also wondering how these numbers would reflect against more specialized units such as the Special Forces, since they usually have better physical and mental training.
posted by theobserver at 7:51 AM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I found it:
the Army, 22 deaths per 100,000
the Marines, 24 deaths per 100,000
posted by eye of newt at 8:15 AM on January 27, 2011


Is there any idea why these suicides are occurring?

If you're looking in that direction, I don't think it's about training -- it's about optempo. I spent 2/3 of my initial enlistment in Iraq. That's not an unusual figure now, but it's simply not enough dwell time. Often it's not "having to fire on convoys which may carry innocent civilians," it's just "my marriage is falling apart and my kids don't even know me."

The real mindfuck of being a combat veteran is coming home, anyway.

Also why I think most of this isn't looking at the entire picture. Which includes veterans who are no longer in the military. Who are similarly unlikely to seek mental health care. Or, if they're young women, have triple the suicide rate of civilians.
posted by lullaby at 10:54 AM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


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