U.S. Troop Suicides Surge (Again)
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Suicides among U.S. troops are up this year, putting 2012 on pace to be the worst year since the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq began.
During the first 155 days of this year, the military recorded 154 suicides.
At this pace, 2012 is 16% ahead of the pace for 2009, which had the highest suicide total since 2001.
Experts expected the number of soldiers killing themselves to continue leveling off, as they did in 2010 and 2011. Instead, the suicides surged during the first five months of 2012.
Dr. Stephen N. Xenakis, a retired Army brigadier general and a practicing psychiatrist, told the Associated Press that the suicides reflect the level of tension as the U.S. moves toward pulling out of the Afghanistan conflict.
“It’s a sign in general of the stress the Army has been under over the 10 years of war,” Xenakis said. “We’ve seen before that these signs show up even more dramatically when the fighting seems to go down and the Army is returning to garrison.”
Some officers still consider it unprofessional for military personnel to seek help for emotional or mental distress problems. In a blog post in January, Maj. Gen. Dana Pittard, commander of the 1st Armored Division, wrote, “I have now come to the conclusion that suicide is an absolutely selfish act….I am personally fed up with soldiers who are choosing to take their own lives so that others can clean up their mess. Be an adult, act like an adult, and deal with your real-life problems like the rest of us.” His statement was denounced by others in the Army, including Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
To Learn More:
Suicides Are Surging Among US Troops (by Robert Burns, Associated Press)
Army Reserve and National Guard Suicides Double; Active Duty Down (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov) (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
Air Force Suicide Rate Hits 17-Year High (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
Army Suicides Reach One a Day; Epidemic Spreads to National Guard and Reserves (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)
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