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

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."
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.
It's the same for both sides, the Taliban lose a lot through suicides, they make better use of theirs though.
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.
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?


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

More veterans of the Falklands War have killed themselves in the years since the 1982 conflict ended than died during hostilities, according to a veterans support group.

BBC News | UK | Falkland veterans claim suicide toll
Official stats are held by DASA . cf http://www.dasa.mod.uk

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?


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

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:


Column 824W

Armed Forces: Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

Alun Cairns: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many members of the armed forces (a) are being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder and (b) have been treated in each of the last five years. [34209]
Mr Robathan: The following table details the number of patients attending a Ministry of Defence Department of Community Mental Health (DCMH) initially assessed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during the period 1 January 2007 to 30 September 2010.
PTSD cases
2007 180
2008 156
2009 172
1 January to 30 September 2010 191

These figures report only new attendances and since July 2009 new episodes of care, but not all those who were receiving treatment. Equivalent verified data prior to 2007 are not available and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
This answer incorporates data from the Annual UK Armed Forces Mental Health Report which includes statistics on PTSD.

EDIT : might also want to check this out

House of Lords Debate Jan 27, 2011 - Armed Forces: Post-service Welfare
While focusing in this debate on veterans, I pay tribute to those currently in the service who give so much of themselves on our behalf. Too often, we, the public, realise only in times of conflict what they do for us, yet I know from my talks with serving men and women how much they feel that out of sight means out of mind.
There are currently some 5 million veterans in the UK with 8 million dependants. Of the 24,000 servicemen who leave the Armed Forces each year, most transfer seamlessly to civilian life, but a significant minority do not. Common mental health problems affect about one in four service personnel and veterans; alcohol abuse affects about one in five; and post-traumatic stress disorder one in 20. Other problems follow from this. Estimates suggest that around one in 10 homeless people in the UK are former members of the Armed Forces.

A 2008 Prison Officers' Association survey found that 8,500 veterans were in custody at any one time in the UK following conviction of a criminal offence. A further survey in 2009 found that 12,000 former armed services personnel were under the supervision of the probation service in England and Wales on either community sentences or parole. At that time, therefore, twice as many veterans-some 20,000-were in the criminal justice system as were serving in military operations in Afghanistan.

Noble Lords will be aware that many initiatives have been instigated to address these issues and to improve mental health services for our veterans. As the noble Lord, Lord King, affirmed, the previous Government had a strong track record, with the Armed Forces Bill in 2006, ensuring forces' pay increases and investing in rehabilitation facilities. There was the £2 million package of measures, announced in April last year, which included the employment of 15 community psychiatric nurses to work in mental health trusts alongside existing specialist teams, the creation of a 24-hour helpline, and improved education and training of GPs to help them to identify veterans suffering mental health problems. .....snip.....
Clearly, much is now being done to improve access for veterans to support, but much more needs to be done both to understand the origins and range of mental health problems that veterans may have and to provide accessible and appropriate services.

It is that last point that greatly concerns me. On leaving the services, the healthcare of veterans moves from being the responsibility of the MoD to that of the NHS, where they are treated alongside the rest of the UK population. However, many reports cite a lack of knowledge among GPs about the particular needs-especially the mental health needs-of our veterans, leading to a lack of referral to such specialist mental health services as are available.