Suicides by active duty U.S. troops last year exceeded the number of servicemen and women killed in combat in Afghanistan. More than half of the soldiers who killed themselves had already sought help from a mental health
The statistics are stunning. According to the Associated Press, suicides among active-duty troops reached a new high last year. The suicide rate has been rising since 2001. And last year, 349 service members took their lives, much more than the 295 killed in combat in Afghanistan. The suicide figures are tentative, pending completion of pathology reports later this year.
This is a rising trend.It’s an uptick that over the past several years, where we have seen more and more soldiers take their lives with suicide and unfortunately also die in other accidents.It’s the tip of an iceberg of a bigger problem affecting the force at large.
About 100,000 or so Army soldiers and Marines will be leaving the military. There are going to be budget cuts. And all these things are putting great burden on the leadership and great burden on the soldiers on the front lines.
What should be recognized is that this is an epidemic, in the sense that it’s across the Army. The whole Army has been — and Marine Corps and the other services.
An estimated 22 military veterans take their lives every day in America, according to the study helmed by Robert Bossarte, an epidemiologist and researcher who works with the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“While the percentage of all suicides reported as Veterans has decreased, the number of suicides has increased,” the conclusion of the study stated.
Specific trends were observed during the course of the study regarding the age and gender of veterans who most frequently committed suicide.
“A majority of Veteran suicides are among those age 50 years and older. Male Veterans who die by suicide are older than non-Veteran males who die by suicide,” the study’s findings stated. “The age distribution of Veteran and non-Veteran women who have died from suicide is similar.”
The study was conducted over the course of two years, and is, according to Bossarte, indicative mainly of veteran suicides playing a part in what is a national problem.
“There is a perception that we have a veterans’ suicide epidemic on our hands.”
The Washington Post is reporting that the rate of veteran suicides discovered by Bossarte is approximately 20 percent higher than 2007 figures offered by the VA.