Quantcast
Connect with us

General unsure if repeated combat tours to blame for record Army suicides

Published

on

2009 breaks Army record for soldier suicides, up over a dozen from 2008

Suicides in the US Army are headed to a new record this year but it remains unclear if repeated combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq are causing more soldiers to take their lives, a top general has said.

With 140 suspected cases reported among soldiers since the start of 2009, the number of suicides was already at last year’s level, General Peter Chiarelli, Army vice chief of staff, told a news conference.

“We are almost certainly going to end the year higher than last year,” Chiarelli said.

As of Monday, 71 suspected suicides also were reported among service members no longer on active duty, which surpassed the 2008 figure, he said.

The total number of Army suicides has reached 211 as of Tuesday, according to the government’s tally.

ADVERTISEMENT

“For all of 2008, the Army said 140 active-duty soldiers killed themselves while 57 Guard and Reserve soldiers committed suicide, totaling 197, according to Army statistics,” CNN noted.

The release of the latest suicide numbers came as President Barack Obama considers sending more US troops to Afghanistan, where nearly 68,000 American forces are already deployed.

The army has come under severe strain from years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, with officers citing repeated deployments and the stress of combat as fueling an increase in depression and marital problems.

But Chiarelli said the causes of the rising suicide rate remained unclear and varied from base to base.

ADVERTISEMENT

About one-third of the soldiers who committed suicide had not yet deployed to either war, he said.

Top US military officer Admiral Mike Mullen, meanwhile, acknowledged the stress of the wars on the army and the Marine Corps but said he did not think the force was at a “tipping point.”

He added that “I certainly would not want to underestimate the seriousness of the stress issue for individuals and for families.”

Chiarelli said the army had launched promising initiatives to try to prevent suicide and teach soldiers how to recover from trauma.

ADVERTISEMENT

“We believe, despite these numbers, that we are making some progress,” he said.

The army had pored over the numbers to try to figure out what factors might be behind the suicides — including links to combat tours or seasons of the year — but there was no clear pattern, he said.

“So everywhere I try to cut this and look at it to try to find out what the causal effect is, I get thwarted,” he said.

“And that’s why we think that we’ve got to look in its totality at a whole bunch of different issues, and it’s going to take time.”

ADVERTISEMENT

One possible link cited by the Army Science Board was that soldiers appeared more likely to commit suicide if they were separated from a base or post, even if they were living in an American city, he said.

Chiarelli said alcohol and drug abuse was on the rise and that was also likely part of the problem.

He said about 900 mental health specialists had been hired to offer more help to troubled soldiers but another 800 were needed. And he said there was a shortage of counselors for those with substance abuse problems, with about 300 more required.

“I need more of them so that I can expand this program to other posts, camps and stations,” he said of the substance abuse counselors.

ADVERTISEMENT

The general also repeated his appeal to army leaders to ensure soldiers who needed psychological help did not face ridicule or risk to their careers.

“This is a matter of life and death and it is absolutely unacceptable to have individuals suffering in silence because they’re afraid their peers or superiors will make fun of them, or worse, it will adversely affect their careers,” he said.

Chiarelli said a recently-launched study of suicide and mental health among army troops should offer insights into the roots of the problem.

The elaborate, five-year study by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is examining factors possibly associated with suicide, including combat-related trauma, personal and economic stress, family history, childhood abuse, a military unit’s cohesion and general mental health.

ADVERTISEMENT

The 50-million-dollar study will include a survey of the up to 120,000 recruits who enter the army every year and will analyze data and interview soldiers who attempted suicide in the past, comparing them to individuals with similar demographic characteristics.

With AFP.

Report typos and corrections to [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

‘Unhinged’ Meghan McCain hurls obscenities at The View’s executive producer in front of audience: report

Published

on

Meghan McCain's job is safe on "The View" -- although producers and her co-hosts are growing increasingly tired of her antics.

Sources told the Daily Mail that McCain blew up at the show's producers in front of the studio audience after moderator Whoopi Goldberg had to restart a segment Tuesday after she confused a law professor with a Justice Department official.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

How Donald Trump and his favorite morning show ‘Fox & Friends’ reviewed the first Democratic debate

Published

on

The reviews from the right are in: President Donald Trump took shots at the left-leaning cable network MSNBC after technical difficulties brought the first Democratic presidential debate to a standstill. Meanwhile, the co-hosts of "Fox & Friends" found themselves "scratching their heads" over the decision of three of the candidates on stage who answered multiple questions in Spanish.

"BORING!" Trump wrote in his one-word review on Twitter as the two-hour debate drug on Wednesday night.

Midway through the evening, when audio issues required moderators Chuck Todd and Rachel Maddow to call an early commercial break, Trump added, "@NBCNews and @MSNBC should be ashamed of themselves for having such a horrible technical breakdown in the middle of the debate. Truly unprofessional and only worthy of a FAKE NEWS Organization, which they are!"

Continue Reading
 

2020 Election

Charles Blow drops the hammer on ‘sexual predator’ Trump in brutally blunt NYT column

Published

on

In a harsh and uncompromising column for the New York Times, political commentator Charles Blow expressed nothing but disgust about the latest sexual assault allegations levied against Donald Trump and despaired that Americans have become so numb to accusations against the president that he is not sure anything can stop him from being re-elected.

Beginning, " I am simply disgusted by what’s happening in America," Blow immediately added, "My political differences with this president and his accomplices in Congress — and now on the Supreme Court — are only part of the reason. Indeed, those differences may not be the lesser reason, and that, for me, says a lot."

Continue Reading
 
 

Copyright © 2019 Raw Story Media, Inc. PO Box 21050, Washington, D.C. 20009 | Masthead | Privacy Policy | For corrections or concerns, please email [email protected]

I need your help.

The 2020 election needs you. There are 18 months until the election, and the Supreme Court is on the line. I'm trying to add journalists to do more exclusive reports. Let me get rid of the ads for you, and put your support toward 100% progressive reporting. Want to ensure your voice is heard? Join me and restore the power of hard-hitting progressive journalism.

HELP TAKE BACK AMERICA
close-link