Army Suicides at an All Time High

A Pentagon report to be released tomorrow discloses there were 99 suicides in the military last year. One-fourth of those who took their own lives had served in Iraq or Afghanistan. That's more suicides than the military has had in the past 26 years.

I blame President Bush. Every day he keeps our soldiers in this war, more of them are going to die. The ones that survive will come back with post-traumatic stress disorders that will take years if not decades to overcome. Some of them are bound to take their own lives as well.

This war was not worth the price. We have a President who is unable or unwilling to acknowledge his mistakes. Experts agree the war in Iraq cannot be won militarily. So why are the troops still there? Let's stop the funding and bring them home now.

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    I thought you supported the troops (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Dadler on Wed Aug 15, 2007 at 10:11:58 PM EST
    How can you support them if you want to bring them home, to the safety of their own country, to the love of their own families.  What is wrong with you?

    And what is wrong with Democrats who can't make this easily constructed argument to warmongering true believers?

    From the Coalition Casualties Website... (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by desertswine on Thu Aug 16, 2007 at 09:51:52 AM EST
    Deaths: Self-Inflicted  As reported by the DoD as of 7/31/2007

    Self Inflicted
                          Army Navy Marines AF Total
    Died of
     Self-Inflicted wounds 100  4     14     0  118

    However, (none / 0) (#13)
    by Gabriel Malor on Thu Aug 16, 2007 at 01:53:50 PM EST
    It is important to note that a self-inflicted death is not necessarily a suicide.

    An untrained person can accidently kill themself (none / 0) (#16)
    by JSN on Thu Aug 16, 2007 at 02:58:18 PM EST
    with a firearm but the chances of that happening are greatly reduced for those who are trained in the proper use of firearms.

    I assume that US soldiers in combat units know the proper use of firearms. Self-inflicted is a general term that covers all cases but in this situation is it reasonable to assume the self-inflicted death was intended.


    Tsk tsk tsk. (none / 0) (#19)
    by Gabriel Malor on Thu Aug 16, 2007 at 06:21:59 PM EST
    Self-inflicted is a general term that covers all cases but in this situation is it reasonable to assume the self-inflicted death was intended.

    You make such an assumption in order to ignore data which frustrates your purpose. That is deeply unscientific, but not unexpected in politics.


    It ain't suicide but..... (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by kdog on Thu Aug 16, 2007 at 10:24:46 AM EST
    the guy here in NY who hired a hitman to shoot him in the leg so he wouldn't have to occupy Iraq got off...the grand jury refused to indict him.

    Good thing too...cuz who knows, he might have offed humself if he was forced to be an occupier of foreign lands.

    War Is Not A Noble Enterprise (5.00 / 2) (#17)
    by john horse on Thu Aug 16, 2007 at 05:42:00 PM EST
    One of the best explanations of the stress that our soldiers face in Iraq was from this interview with author Chris Hedges done in 2004. I would encourage anyone interested in this issue to read it.

    Never a noble enterprise (none / 0) (#27)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Aug 17, 2007 at 08:53:34 AM EST
    It can be necessary for all of us to have to defend ourselves but it is never pleasant and it is something that usually leaves a mark or impression on us forever.  Attacking anyone is never a noble enterprise........the act of war particularly when it was contrived upon lies and no rational life or death threatening reason is never a noble enterprise, never can be, and never will be.

    I doubt that number is accurate (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by Jen M on Thu Aug 16, 2007 at 05:45:59 PM EST
    how often do the soldiers who suicide, their buddies, or their commanders try to mask the suicide  as something else?

    Which experts believe the war cannot (1.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Green26 on Thu Aug 16, 2007 at 12:38:35 AM EST
    be won militarily? Just curious as to whom you were referring to. I assume Petraeus is not in this camp. He would seem to be an expert. What's the reason for the qualification that the war cannot be won "militarily"? Isn't the real question whether the war can be won by whatever means? When the experts who are close to the situation decide the war can't be won, then obviously the US has to go to plans B or C. However, even if the war cannot be won, then it seems to me that the US has to consider the impacts of withdrawing from Iraq. A recent NY Times article discussed how most of the Democratic presidential candidates weren't even advocating complete or immediate withdrawl. The article also said that even the most optimistic people thought it would take at least a year to withdraw. Tough situation. Difficult decisions.

    If we leave... (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Dadler on Thu Aug 16, 2007 at 02:19:13 AM EST
    ...Iraqis fight it out themselves for their OWN destiny.  

    If we stay, Iraqis fight it out with themselves AND us for their own destiny.

    There was no Saddam-era Iraq that could be invaded into peace.  It was never a possibility.  Iraq was going to be self-transformation over time or, with circumstances like those we imposed, chaos and mayhem.  We chose to impose chaos.  And it says something that the place is now an infinitely bigger mess and less governable than it was during Saddam's reign.  Hell, we're arming and siding with his old pals now anyway.  Guess we should've left him there to counter Iran, eh?  The ironies abound.  And the bodies pile up like cordwood.

    Petraeus, btw, is who most famously said the war cannot be won solely by the military.  The quote was bandied about, Harry Reid got into hot water dancing around with it, but the reality is... we are doing little to nothing in Iraq BUT militarily?  Have we employed Iraqis en masse to reconstruct?  Have we got the power up and running?  Clean water?  And on and on.  We invaded another nation for no legitimate reason.  Think long and hard about that.  And how wrong it was and continues to be.  And now to justify our presence because of the chaos we CHOSE to create?

    The logic is absent.  The irrationality clear.  And have no reason to suspect any good will come of our terrible wrong there.  Wishful thinking is putting it beyond mildly.    


    All of them (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Sailor on Thu Aug 16, 2007 at 10:11:35 AM EST
    Which experts believe the war cannot be won militarily?

    JCF Admiral Michael Mullen

    Chuck Hagel

    Gen Petraeus

    War Czar Lute



    It is not a "war". (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Edger on Thu Aug 16, 2007 at 11:19:48 AM EST
    The "war" ended in 2003 about six weeks after the invasion.

    It has been an illegal occupation and murderous debacle of monstrous proportions ever since.

    The other war, for the minds of the peasants (the 26 percenters) was won long before the invasion began. It was short war. The losers had so little to offer.


    Does anyone disagree with the statement (1.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Green26 on Thu Aug 16, 2007 at 09:23:08 AM EST
    that the war can't be won "solely" by military means? I think most people figured that out long ago. Success in Iraq also takes assistance from the Iraqi politicians and people, help from neighboring countries, diplomacy, reconstruction, etc. As for the above statement on Iraqi reconstruction, there is and has been considerable reconstruction--just not nearly enough. Little of the progress or successes get brought to the forefront by the media. If you interested, there's a website (rebuilding-iraq.net), which has summaries of projects and links to reports.

    Our idea of what constitutes (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Aug 16, 2007 at 09:43:16 AM EST
    a government doesn't jibe with the Iraqi notion of what constitutes a government.  The Iraqi people aren't all that "national", they are more tribal in their relations with each other.  The people in charge of this mess don't understand the Iraqi people and they really don't want to understand them, they just want to shove their brand of government down Iraq's throat and then get that oil pumping again.  Iraq was precariously perched upon a peace under Saddam.  We destroyed that and we also destroyed the functional social fabric of their society that the little people had built.  Our first years in country we imprisoned people simply for being Baathist, we imprisoned people who we thought COULD have information that we wanted and if that didn't work we imprisoned their families...... we tortured and murdered many innocents.  I have no nice way of saying this but no matter how pretty you frost a $hitcake, when you cut into it it still isn't edible.  Frosting will not make Iraq what we want it to be and it won't make it what the Iraqi people need it to be.  What we have done to Iraq trying to force it to be what we want it to be is a nightmare.  Something far different than America constructing Iraq into anything must happen now.  And if we ever want the Iraqi people to ever respect us we have to place our leaders on trial that lied us into the war, they are war criminals but that won't happen so Iraq as a whole will never respect us in any fashion and if they did they would all need therapy for their mental and emotional suppression!

    Asked and answered (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Sailor on Thu Aug 16, 2007 at 11:03:00 AM EST
    by Sailor on Thu Aug 16, 2007 at 10:11:35 AM EST
    Which experts believe the war cannot be won militarily?

    JCF Admiral Michael Mullen
    Chuck Hagel

    Gen Petraeus

    War Czar Lute


    Is Petraeus recommending that the US (1.00 / 1) (#12)
    by Green26 on Thu Aug 16, 2007 at 01:17:46 PM EST
    pull out of Iraq immediately? Since you cited him above, I just wanted to clarify the point?

    I have no doubt that Petraeus is recommending (none / 0) (#24)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Aug 17, 2007 at 08:33:48 AM EST
    we do what he deems in his opinion to be most able to make him look like a successful General.  He doesn't get to cast the "decider" recommendation though and his oath to serve his CIC prevents him from making it clear in potentially hostile to his CIC political situations that his recommend isn't the deciding recommend and maybe has even been the ignored recommend.  Any number of past CIC's both Democrat or Republican or lefty or righty could have delivered up a successful mission completed by the terrific and also great David Petraeus but with the CIC Dubya Bush Petraeus has the least possibility of such a thing happening to him. I wish him well and I wish him luck, I wish our whole military luck because they almost have nothing else but luck left.

    The whole story: (1.00 / 2) (#14)
    by Gabriel Malor on Thu Aug 16, 2007 at 01:58:17 PM EST
    Not that one would expect it of a Washington Post reporter, but this little bit of information is important:

    In 2006, the overall suicide rate for the United States was 13.4 per 100,000 people. It was 21.1 per 100,000 people for all men aged 17 to 45, compared to a rate of 17.8 for men in the Army.

    Being in the military requires a (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Aug 17, 2007 at 08:45:47 AM EST
    person to be squared away daily.  Because we have an all volunteer force now I would tend to believe that successful soldiers volunteering for the stress of military service have a very low occurring rate of organic depression difficulties.  If you tend to be a dark person given to isolation and bouts of depression most people around you don't tend to encourage you to serve in the military.  You aren't permitted much personal down time in the military or mental health days off.  It is very like you to ignore that the military rates of suicide alone and by itself has increased among men and it is even more like you to ignore the military verses civilian figures for female soldiers given in the same article you linked to.

    The overall rate was 5.46 per 100,000 for women, compared to an Army rate of 11.3 women soldiers per 100,000.

    But you do tend to like to ignore the whole picture.


    Numbers. numbers, numbers (1.00 / 0) (#20)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Aug 16, 2007 at 07:31:53 PM EST
    A little analysis, from the link:
    In a service of more than a half million troops [...]

    So, total US armed forces: ~500,000
    (From google) Deployed in Afghanistan: ~50,000
    (From google) Deployed in Iraq: ~160,000
    Total deployed soldiers: 50,000 + 160,000 = ~210,000 = 21/50 = 42%
    Not-deployed ~290,000 = 29/50 = 58%

    Suicide rates, gen'l pop: 21.1 per 100,000 people for all men aged 17 to 45

    From the link:

    The 99 suicides [among all US armed forces] included 28 soldiers deployed to the two wars and 71 who weren't.
    28/210,000 = 13.3 suicides/10,000 deployed soldiers

    71/290,000 = 24.5 suicides/10,000 not-deployed soldiers.

    Therefore, deployed soldiers commit suicide at almost half the rate of not-deployed soldiers and at almost 1/3 less than the rate of the US population of equivalent age.

    Conclusion: Deployed soldiers commit suicide at a much lower rate than the rest of the US population of equivalent age.

    Real conclusion: Numbers will support whatever your agenda happens to be.

    Hiding suicides, military PTSD, etc (1.00 / 1) (#21)
    by diogenes on Thu Aug 16, 2007 at 10:31:34 PM EST
    Hiding suicides is done in the civilian world too, and there is little evidence that it occurs more in the military.
    The Journal of Anxiety Disorders Volume 21, Issue 2, 2007 is devoted in its entirety to demolishing the 1970's artificial construct of "Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder".

    it happens in the civilian world TOO (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by Jen M on Fri Aug 17, 2007 at 06:15:26 AM EST
    it still means suicide rates are uncertain statistics. I simply don't trust the numbers. Military OR civilian.

    We do know for a fact that military did cover up at least one friendly fire death.


    Just because a professional journal (none / 0) (#23)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Aug 17, 2007 at 06:35:34 AM EST
    is taking a fresh look at an existing psychiatric problem and how they classify and treat it doesn't mean that diagnosis doesn't exist and I think demolishing is a little bit of a dishonest verb here.  Here's an abstract about that particular journal.

    A special issue in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders on "Challenges to the PTSD construct and its database" comes at a time when the field of traumatic stress is reexamining itself and scholars are debating the validity of basic assumptions. Some have suggested that scientific debate concerning PTSD can be opposed to the interests of victims and to those who suffer the effects of severe trauma. Yet, scientific methods, and associated critiques, provide the best way to advance our knowledge, so that professionals can provide accurate information, sound advice, and non-harmful interventions to those in need.

    I expect professionals to be professional and do everything in their power to help their clients, so what does the existence of this journal prove to you?  To me it only proves that professionals in the psychiatric field are doing their jobs, questioning themselves when it could be needed.  The journal doesn't seem to be getting much play though and I think that speaks volumes about the Volume.


    Whos fault is this??? (none / 0) (#4)
    by Drogba22 on Thu Aug 16, 2007 at 03:01:12 AM EST
    Really!!! this just makes me really pissed off to see that all these people r dyin...and I agree that it is president Bush's fault...he is keepin all those soldiers out there and everyday he keeps them out there the closer and closer they get to the edge...and when they reach that edge and jump off it there is no turnin back....and all this can be prevented if Mr."President" will take some charge and bring these soldiers back home to their family where they belong...we all kno they want to give back to their country but they should only have to give back when its needed not cause...some douche says we need to fight back...I'm just glad that there is going to be a new president next year...and hopefully they can do somethin to change this epidemic...I might only be a 15 year old but I do care about other peoples lives...and wut happens to this country...I wish President Bush wood just see that the more we fight back the angrier they get and then they r going to retalliate...and their retalliation is going to kill more and more people and by the time the war ends if Mr. Bush is president there wont be a country to defend

    I like 15 yr olds that speak up (none / 0) (#25)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Aug 17, 2007 at 08:36:08 AM EST
    keep speaking.  Till they plant you six feet under keep speaking.

    Minor point (none / 0) (#15)
    by Wile ECoyote on Thu Aug 16, 2007 at 02:44:30 PM EST
    1991 had more suicides.  102 Still too many.  Maybe we can celebrate suicides like we do with Hunter's.

    PTSD (none / 0) (#28)
    by diogenes on Fri Aug 17, 2007 at 07:05:33 PM EST
    The Journal of Anxiety Disorders listed above pointed out in articles that the name PTSD was developed after Vietnam, that many more vets were diagnosed with PTSD than actually served in Vietnam.  It doesn't get much traction now because the PTSD industry and the VA bureaucracy have too much to lose.  One of the authors, McHugh, was in the early vanguard of battling the "recovered memories of abuse" nonsense and took flak for years from therapists in that industry.