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Army suicides , highest since Viet Nam..What can be done?

Thirty-two soldiers took their own lives last month, the most Army suicides in a single month since the Vietnam era. Eleven of the soldiers were not on active duty. Of the 21 who were, seven were serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, the Department of Defense said.

Army officials say they don't have any answers to why more and more soldiers are resorting to suicide.

"There were no trends to any one unit, camp, post or station," Col. Chris Philbrick, head of the Army's suicide prevention task force, told CNN. "I have no silver bullet to answer the question why."

Last year, a record-breaking 245 soldiers committed suicide. The Army seems on track to surpass that number this year, as 145 soldiers have taken their lives in the first half of 2010.


Asked by sweet-a-kins at 12:21 PM on Jul. 16, 2010 in Politics & Current Events

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Answers (20)
  • They need a huge paradigm shift. Instead of making the troops fear their careers if they need to seek counseling, they need to stop making them feel like they are weak or unstable. When I was in the navy, a lot of people were afraid to seek mental health because they feared repercussions of being ostracized by their peers. Also, a lot of the troops who do seek help are given antidepressants and sent back to the place that triggers their emotional upset. The best thing would be to LIMDU them and give them all of the therapy they need, instead of viewing the soldier as "a body". I remember people getting denied leave or liberty because "they needed the body".

    Answer by Izsarejman at 12:37 PM on Jul. 16, 2010

  • The military needs to offer counseling while overseas and after the soldiers return home. These men and women have seen things that are horrible and many suffer from PTSD and need help. They cannot just be sent home and then ignored. My friend has been to Afghanistan twice and she has told me some of the things she has seen. Blew my mind away, it is horrible. Once a soldier gets home, I think they should have mandatory counseling for 3-6 months, more if needed.

    Answer by tyfry7496 at 12:24 PM on Jul. 16, 2010

  • That is just so sad. This should really be an eye opener that our troops need more counseling available to them and more resources to boost morale.

    Answer by nicolemstacy at 12:24 PM on Jul. 16, 2010

  • My son is in the military. I am familiar with the attitudes and life-skills and values which are prevalent in his generation, whether IN the military or not.
    Many of these kids grew up without any spiritual convictions, under the confusing chaos of divorces, broken homes, single parents, loose sexual relationships among their parents and their peers, NO exploration of morality or constructive behaviors vs. self-destructive habits
    nothing to tell them they had any reason for living beyond having a good time (thank you, aggressive Darwinists permeating our school curriculum!)
    nothing to help them feel they belong to something greater than themselves, something which cares about them
    nothing to tell them there is an after-life, and that "ending it" DOESN'T end anything, it just triggers a whole set of bad consequences.
    I agree about counseling.
    But I doubt this trend is unique to the military members of this generation.

    Answer by waldorfmom at 3:44 PM on Jul. 16, 2010

  • it is more than just in the war zone. the wounded are received anywhere from 1-3 days out from their injuries..these are injuries that can not even begin to be described. Most of the wounded are not even worried about themselves....they are worried about their buddies that were either sitting right next to them or walking with them when it happened. Most of them just want to get better and rejoin their units..
    those that have been in a war zone...many feel isolated once they come many of their family and friends can understand? If they are Reserve or Guard not active duty I think this is even worse..they come back, the unit demobilizes and they go their separate ways. I think those on active duty are afraid to ask for help..the military is trying....they have screening processes in place....the message just needs to be made clear it will not ruin someone's military career if they come forward with symptoms of PTSD..

    Answer by mamanurse6 at 12:59 PM on Jul. 16, 2010

  • Not only is there concern for their career should they seek help, but the availability of help and quality of help is also an issue. Even with the recent changes to the PTSD disability rules, a veteran has to be evaluated in a VA hospital. Many veterans aren't anywhere near a VA hospital and if they are, the wait can be long and the staff are not always best equipped. Working for the VA as a psychiatrist pays significantly less than private practice. We have to get the BEST into our VA hospitals or allow veterans to seek help elsewhere.

    Further, as much time as we spend training soldier to do their job, we spend very little teaching them how to assimilate back into civilian life. Or if still active duty, how to go back to non-combat. We have to give our military members the resources they need to come "down" from deployments and go back to their families.

    Answer by BuddyRoo at 3:15 PM on Jul. 16, 2010

  • well we have to remember too....everyone processes things different. My husband(an active duty Marine) has the ability to process what he has seen and "put it in a box"... I (just retired 1 June from active Navy) talked to him about things and cried. had I not been able to cry I think I would be crazy by now......I can close my eyes and things can play in my head like a movie......thankfully my husband and I have each other to talk to.....some of the young Soldiers and Marine's don't feel as if they have anyone......I took care of many of our wounded and I would ask if there was anyone they wanted me to call for them.....and they had no one....i have seen young wives break up with their young husbands when they are still laying in the hospital fighting for their lives....too many feel like they have nothing to come home to....

    Answer by mamanurse6 at 6:42 PM on Jul. 16, 2010

  • "The heavy stigma associated with mental health care stops many service members and veterans from seeking treatment," he said. "More than half of soldiers and Marines in Iraq who tested positive for a psychological injury reported concerns that they will be seen as weak by their fellow service members."

    He pointed out that the statistics don't include the number of veterans who end their own lives. That figure surged 26 percent from 2005 to 2007, according to the Veterans Affairs Department.


    Comment by sweet-a-kins (original poster) at 12:26 PM on Jul. 16, 2010

  • My brother in law who is Army (18 years in) says that the policy to deploy 6 months on, 6 months off has been more stressful for his guys because it allows LESS 'downtime'. I believe they have been doing this for the last year or so... Even when they were doing the 12-14 month deployments, there were many times the troop didn't get the time to decompress nor given 'family time' because of training schedules, TDY's, etc....

    Answer by grlygrlz2 at 12:44 PM on Jul. 16, 2010

  • I know so much of it is STIGMA...but damn...there has to be solutions to at least TRY and curb this.....


    Comment by sweet-a-kins (original poster) at 1:00 PM on Jul. 16, 2010