Suicides among Army troops are at a nearly three-decade high and that should be of concern to all of us. The numbers increased greatly last year. It appears that at least 128 soldiers killed themselves in 2008. The final count likely will be considerably higher because more than a dozen other suspicious deaths are still being investigated and could also turn out to be self-inflicted.
The new figure of more than 128 compares to 115 in 2007 and 102 in 2006 — and is the highest since record keeping began in 1980. this means that 20.2 per 100,000 soldiers – which is higher than the adjusted civilian rate for the first time since the Vietnam War – committed suicide last year. The repeated and long tours of duty, due to the simultaneous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, have put our troops under tremendous and unprecedented stress. I am not sure how the suicide numbers break out between regular and National Guard troops.
It should be noted that the numbers kept by the service branches don’t show the whole picture of war-related suicides because they don’t include deaths after people have left the military. The Department of Veterans Affairs tracks those numbers and says there were 144 suicides among the nearly 500,000 service members who left the military from 2002-2005 after fighting in at least one of the two ongoing wars. The true incidence of suicide among veterans is not known, according to a report last year by the Congressional Research Service. Based on numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the VA estimates that 18 veterans a day — or 6,500 a year — take their own lives, but that number includes veterans from all previous wars. Hopefully, the Obama Administration will take a hard look at this problem and take all necessary corrective action.
Source: Associated Press
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