U.S. looses more troops to suicide than combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Discussion in 'US' started by radiorental, Jan 26, 2011.

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  1. Cut and paste from the above article

    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.

    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."
  2. Can't the ASC's minutes be found and the names of those who have insisted on removing such minimal welfare checks be published and damned as no doubt half of them campaign for re-election on just how much they do for service persons while on the Committee? All very sad.
  3. It's the same for both sides, the Taliban lose a lot through suicides, they make better use of theirs though.
  4. I've no idea of the veracity of the figures quoted, but it's hardly the most impartial source that you've found is it?
  5. National Guard and Reserves are organized differently.

    Guard is mostly combat oriented units up to divisional strength. Reserves are mostly CS/CSS units (1 Inf Bn in Hawaii), the IRR is a non troop unit entity. You do 3 years active duty and when discharged you're in the IRR for the next 5 years to make up the 8 year obligation.
    No Drilling, just a name on a list.

    Obviously being in a unit you have mates to rely on. I still see many of the men I served with in Iraq daily in my town. Someone who doesnt have such a tie is IMO more likely to feel abandoned. Yet there are shitloads of Veteran groups, who have programs for those in bad circumstances.
  6. Certainly worrying - but I wonder what the equivalent rate is for the UK? 103 deaths in Afghan last year - anybody have any idea, rough numbers, on the suicide rate amongst serving and ex-serving?
  7. Goatman

    Goatman LE Book Reviewer

    In UK, Kings's Centre for Military Health Research University of London have published a number of studies.
    eg http://www.centreformentalhealth.org.uk/pdfs/Across_the_wire.pdf

    Official stats are held by DASA . cf http://www.dasa.mod.uk

    e.g UK Armed Forces Mental Health Report - Quarterly Report
    (Previously published as Armed Forces Psychiatric Morbidity Report)
    Edition - Jul - Sep 2010 Released on - 07 Jan 2011

    As you would imagine, the UK charity Combat Stress (formerly the Ex-Servicemen's Mental Welfare Society - founded 1920 ) also takes a close interest.

    A number of Parliamentary questions have been asked on this issue and the responses are in the public domain at Hansard - House of Commons debates - UK Parliament

    Might also take a look at
    House of Commons Hansard Debates for 13 Jan 2010 (pt 0006)

    Tscheuss !
  8. It's a well recognised problem, exacerbated by the fact that most ex squaddies fall neatly into the "potential for suicide" demographic.

    BBC News | UK | Falkland veterans claim suicide toll
  9. Okay, thanks.

    So, about 22 per year in the serving population - down from about 25 per year in the 2003 report. About the same for vets, according to the University of Manchester / DASA study. So, although not brilliant and the bias towards the very young (serving under 20 and vet under 24) is worrying - we're at about half the, admittedly high, casualty rate for current combat ops (and, with the two exceptions noted, under the rate in the general population.)

    Edited to add: the "Centre for Mental Health" report - that'll not be British troops on the cover, then?
  10. Goatman

    Goatman LE Book Reviewer

    Yeah...German from the boots / webbing but not UKFOR anyway ! (how hard would it have been to source a British parade shot ? :crash: )

    Oh....and this popped up in my browser ,purely by chance:


    EDIT : might also want to check this out

    House of Lords Debate Jan 27, 2011 - Armed Forces: Post-service Welfare