In September 2010 and February 2009 I posted articles and comments about suicide in the military, something we seldom hear anything about. For that matter, we seldom hear anything about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the troops fighting there. There are few signs that the nation is at war. Of course the troops fighting and their love ones either left behind during deployment or because their soldier will never come home think about the wars every day.
The deaths abroad and at home continue and for the 6th straight year, suicides have increased in the Army with 242 in 2009 to 301 in 2010. There is a marked increase in National Guard and Army Reserve deaths. Active duty saw a slight decrease from with 162 in 2009 to 156 in 2010. The National Guard has seen a dramatic increase from 48 suicides in 2009 to 101 in 2010.
As always officials express dismay and cannot understand why this is happening.
In efforts to stop this rising problem, General Peter Chiarelli, the Army’s Vice Chief of Staff is quoted as saying, “We recognize we must be even more aggressive.”
But he said something similar two years ago when the Army called for a nationwide recruitment stand-down in the wake of investigating four suicides in a Houston Recruitment Battalion. Chiarelli is quoted in the Army Times addressing suicide,
“We need to move out as quickly as we can to do those things that are going to lower the numbers,”
“That’s the best we can do. We can’t eliminate suicide.”
“I believe there are certain things leaders can do in the short run to reverse the trend and I’m going to talk about those next week.”
He is right, there is only so much that can be done to stop a people from killing themselves and suicide will not be eliminated anytime soon. But we should not pretend the obvious is not the major factor. Ten years of continuous war is breaking the military. It is killing more and more of our troops on the battlefield and at home. Change how the U.S. relates to the world. Make battling disease, poverty and hunger our weapons to defeat ideologies of hate. I believe that would take pressure off the men and women in the military. I believe fewer and fewer of them would come home to kill themselves.
More Army Guard, Reserve soldiers committing suicide http://www.usatoday.com/news/military/2011-01-20-suicides20_ST_N.htm?csp=34news
Jan 20, 2011 By Gregg Zoroya, USA TODAY
Missouri and Texas each reported seven suicides among their National Guard troops in 2010, Wisconsin had six, and there were five each in the National Guard units of Minnesota, Ohio, Arizona, California and North Carolina.
Soldiers, both active duty and on inactive status, died by suicide at the rate of 25 per month in 2010, Army figures show.
“All of us are stunned by it, and we wished we knew why,” says Army Lt. Col. Jackie Guthrie of the Wisconsin National Guard. “It is especially hard when it’s suicide, when it’s someone hurting in our ranks.”