John Glaser / AntiWar.com – 2012-03-11 22:22:17
Army Suicides Up 80 Percent Since Invasion of Iraq
John Glaser / AntiWar.com
(March 8, 2012) — The number of suicides in the US Army rose by 80 percent after the United States launched the war on Iraq, according to an analysis published in the British journal Injury Prevention by American military doctors.
The number of Army suicides began to trend upwards in following the invasion of Iraq in 2004 after 25 years of being well below civilian rates of suicide. By 2008, 140 Army personnel committed suicide, 80 percent higher than in 2004.
“This increase, unprecedented in over 30 years of US Army records, suggests that 30 percent of suicides that occurred in 2008 may be associated with post-2003 events following the major commitment of troops to Iraq, in addition to the ongoing operations in Afghanistan,” says the study.
The rise paralleled an increase in counseling and hospitalization for mental health problems. From 2003, these rates nearly doubled. “The 2008 rate indicates that more than one-fifth of all active-duty soldiers had an ambulatory [walk-in] visit for a mental health disorder, implying a prevalent public health problem,” the study concludes.
The study does not include suicides from other branches of the US military and does not include figures through key decisions of the Obama administration, like the 2009 surge in Afghanistan. But in 2010, the US Army announced that it faced a record number of suicides among Army personnel, with 160 active-duty soldiers taking their own lives. [See next story.]
US Army Suicides in 2009 a New Record
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(January 15, 2010) — Calling 2009 a “painful year,” the US Army announced today that it faced a record number of suicides among Army personnel, with 160 active-duty soldiers taking their own lives. This surpassed the previous record of 140 in 2008, and the previous record before that was 115 in 2007.
The Army has been keeping track of suicides since 1980, with the level suddenly rising to epidemic levels in recent years. But despite the expectation that endless combat deployments would be playing a role in the deaths, officials say that about 1/3 of the soldiers who took their lives this year hadn’t yet been sent on any combat missions.
Experts say that the military has developed a culture which discourages soldiers from seeking psychological help, and the stigma associated with things like PTSD treatment will take a long time to repair. In the meantime suicides are a growing problem for the military, and one that they will continue to try to tackle.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.