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Thread: More US troops lost to suicide than combat in Afghanistan & Iraq

  1. #1
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    More US troops lost to suicide than combat in Afghanistan & Iraq

    By John Donnelly

    For the second year in a row, the U.S. military has lost more troops to suicide than it has to combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    The reasons are complicated and the accounting uncertain — for instance, should returning soldiers who take their own lives after being mustered out be included?

    But the suicide rate is a further indication of the stress that military personnel live under after nearly a decade of war.

    Figures released by the armed services last week showed an alarming increase in suicides in 2010, but those figures leave out some categories.

    Overall, the services reported 434 suicides by personnel on active duty, significantly more than the 381 suicides by active-duty personnel reported in 2009. The 2010 total is below the 462 deaths in combat, excluding accidents and illness. In 2009, active-duty suicides exceeded deaths in battle.

    Last week’s figures, though, understate the problem of military suicides because the services do not report the statistics uniformly. Several do so only reluctantly.

    Figures reported by each of the services last week, for instance, include suicides by members of the Guard and Reserve who were on active duty at the time. The Army and the Navy also add up statistics for certain reservists who kill themselves when they are not on active duty.

    But the Air Force and Marine Corps do not include any non-mobilized reservists in their posted numbers. What’s more, none of the services count suicides that occur among a class of reservists known as the Individual Ready Reserve, the more than 123,000 people who are not assigned to particular units.

    Suicides by veterans who have left the service entirely after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan also are not counted by the Defense Department. The Department of Veterans Affairs keeps track of such suicides only if the person was enrolled in the VA health care system — which three-quarters of veterans are not.

    But even if such veterans and members of the Individual Ready Reserve are excluded from the suicide statistics, just taking into account the deaths of reservists who were not included in last week’s figures pushes the number of suicides last year to at least 468.

    That total includes some Air Force and Marine Corps reservists who took their own lives while not on active duty, and it exceeds the 462 military personnel killed in battle.

    The problem of reservists’ suicides, in particular, has been a major concern to some lawmakers. A Pentagon study this year confirmed that reservists lack the support structure that active-duty troops have.

    Some types of reservists are more cut off than others. Rep. Rush D. Holt, a New Jersey Democrat, says that members of the Individual Ready Reserve and other categories of citizen-soldiers do not receive a thorough screening for mental health issues when they return from deployments.

    One of those soldiers, a constituent of Holt’s named Coleman S. Bean, was an Army sergeant and Iraq War veteran who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder but could not find treatment. He took his own life in 2008.

    Moved by Bean’s story, Holt wrote a bill requiring phone contacts with these reservists every 90 days after they come home from war. The House adopted Holt’s provision as part of its defense authorization bills for both fiscal 2010 and fiscal 2011. But conferees writing the final version of the bills took it out both years.

    Holt said in December that Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain was responsible for that decision in the most recent bill. A spokeswoman for McCain, Brooke Buchanan, would not state his position on the provision. Instead, she said House members had removed it.

    A House Armed Services Committee spokeswoman, Jennifer Kohl, said the House reluctantly pulled the provision from the bill because of the opposition of senators, whom she did not name.

    Holt said a fuller reckoning of the number of suicides among military personnel and veterans is needed not so much to tell lawmakers and the public that there is a problem — that, he says, they know. Rather, it is needed to more accurately gauge the extent to which programs to help troubled troops are having an effect.

    "In order to know whether the steps we’ve taken work," Holt said, "we’re going to have to have more detailed knowledge of who’s out there."

    More US troops lost to suicide than combat

  2. #2
    I would be interested to know what percentage of the suicides were actually war-related (i.e. due to unbearable physical or psychological wounds). People kill themselves for all kinds of reasons.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aeolus View Post
    I would be interested to know what percentage of the suicides were actually war-related (i.e. due to unbearable physical or psychological wounds). People kill themselves for all kinds of reasons.
    I guess it's too late to ask them why they killed themselves.

  4. #4
    >>> EDITED BY MOD 11: Quote removed since the original is only 2 posts above. I really, I mean really don't understand why one would quote a lengthy post located 2 post above. That's only clutter. <<<

    So I'm wondering what US troop suicides have to do with subjects on a Canadian Sex Board? Why not discuss Canadian Troops instead?
    Last edited by Mod 11; 01-26-2011 at 12:20 AM.

  5. #5
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    Hmmm,

    Quote Originally Posted by CS Martin View Post
    So I'm wondering what US troop suicides have to do with subjects on a Canadian Sex Board? Why not discuss Canadian Troops instead?
    Same as your anti-Obama obsession thread. Why not focus on Canadian politics. Winky.

    Quote Originally Posted by Doc Holliday View Post
    Overall, the services reported 434 suicides by personnel on active duty, significantly more than the 381 suicides by active-duty personnel reported in 2009. The 2010 total is below the 462 deaths in combat, excluding accidents and illness. In 2009, active-duty suicides exceeded deaths in battle.
    These seem like astonishing numbers Doc. But since records on suicides in war have only been kept by the U.S. since 1980 it's hard to say if this is unusual or not.

    I would guess that having to endure the much worst conditions of stagnant trench warfare in a concentrated area between 1914-1918 the psychological pressures would have been greater. But who knows. These rates are staggering regardless.

    incredible,

    Merlot
    Last edited by Merlot; 01-25-2011 at 11:22 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CS Martin View Post
    So I'm wondering what US troop suicides have to do with subjects on a Canadian Sex Board? Why not discuss Canadian Troops instead?
    I wasn't aware that those were the rules.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Merlot View Post
    Same as your anti-Obama obsession thread.
    I agree. I suppose CS also objects to you guys talking about the Boston Red Sox, NY Yankees, NE Patriots & Dallas Cowboys in the other threads.

    I suppose we can't talk about Charlie Sheen & Tiger Woods either.
    Last edited by Doc Holliday; 01-26-2011 at 02:09 PM.

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    Canada's military suicide rate doubled in a year


  9. #9
    CS, you're in no way in a position to whine about this thread's topic. If this topic have no place here, I know of a few you started that fall in the same category...

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Mod 11 View Post
    CS, you're in no way in a position to whine about this thread's topic. If this topic have no place here, I know of a few you started that fall in the same category...
    Yup and I was chastised at every turn for posting a poll on an American President on a Canadian Sex Board. You never said anything there did you 11. Your comment is editorial in nature. My comment was within posting guidelines. Many people whine around here and my post does not breach any rules until you make them up as you go. So disrespectfully (very much so) I disagree with you.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Doc Holliday View Post
    I agree. I suppose CS also objects to you guys talking about the Boston Red Sox, NY Yankees, NE Patriots & Dallas Cowboys in the other threads.

    I suppose we can't talk about Sarah Palin & Tiger Woods either.
    Yes, and I see you avoiding talking about how the CAD government is trashing Alberta environment chasing after petrodollars to support Quebec. Is this subject a little too close to your Canadian pride?
    C

  12. #12
    So I'm wondering what US troop suicides have to do with subjects on a Canadian Sex Board? Why not discuss Canadian Troops instead?
    Doc provided a link to CF suicides, so here goes:

    The CF suicide rate appears to be considerably higher than the U.S. rate. The American Military (active and reserve) is roughly twenty-five times larger than the CF, yet the American military has had twelve times the number of suicides as the CF. Interesting. Looks like more resources need to be put into prevention efforts. I would suggest that as a supplement to psychiatric treatments, the government offer SP vouchers to interested troops. I think a SP would be more likely to save someone who's standing on the precipice than a shrink. I met one SP who did more to address my issues than any psycho babbler ever has. Sometimes a broken person just needs to be treated like a person, rather than as a lab expiriment.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by CS Martin View Post
    Yes, and I see you avoiding talking about how the CAD government is trashing Alberta environment chasing after petrodollars to support Quebec. Is this subject a little too close to your Canadian pride?
    Avoiding? Nope. Just not interested in that topic.

    Go ahead & start a thread about it if you want. I couldn't care less.

  14. #14
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    That's a shocking stat Doc! Though no one should be overly surprised by the growing level of PTS in active and inactive service personnel. In thinking about this... I'm actually surprised we don't hear more about random public shootings-suicides by inactive service ppl, especially coming from countries that deploy the most service ppl. You have to think reintegration into reg. society must be incredibly difficult and there's bound to be a need to "act-out."

  15. #15
    Ok guys, this thread is about suicide within the troops. We'll gladly allow members to discuss and compare stats between various countries but we will not tolerate discussions about the pertinence of this thread in relation to MERB's location or target market.

    MERB have not yet banned political discussions and we have no plan to do so. The fact members discuss the politics of USA, Canada or whatever small unknown country is irrelevant. The server are based in Canada but, whatever happen in politics elsewhere in the world might have an effect here and can be discussed.

    Those who can't comprehend this simple rule and try to side-track this thread will get 1 week off. Please stay on topic.

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