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US Soldier Suicides In Afghanistan Rose Sharply Last Year

#1
Soldier Suicides In Afghanistan Rose Sharply Last Year

By MATTHEW KAUFFMAN | The Hartford Courant
January 14, 2009
Soldiers in Afghanistan committed suicide in record numbers in 2008, in step with a dramatic spike in combat deaths in the country, new military figures show.

Seven Army soldiers committed suicide in Afghanistan last year, compared with 15 suicides in total during the previous 75 months of Operation Enduring Freedom, according to figures from the Defense Manpower Data Center.

Col. Elspeth Ritchie, a top Army psychiatrist, said military officials during the past several years have tracked an increase in mental health problems among soldiers serving in Afghanistan. In 2004, she said, anxiety and depression were far less common among soldiers in Afghanistan, compared with those in Iraq. But by 2007 and early 2008, soldiers in Afghanistan were suffering depression and anxiety at the same rates as their counterparts in Iraq, she said.

"In Afghanistan, there are considerable barriers for providers getting to the troops due to the difficulties in travel and weather, compared to Iraq," Ritchie said.
More on the link
http://www.courant.com/news/health/hc-afghansuicide0114.artjan14,0,6573425.story
 

FORMER_FYRDMAN

LE
Book Reviewer
#4
Sorry but, under the circumstances, why is seven dead in this timeframe, even by suicide, remotely remarkable? That level of loss gets you about half an inch up the Normandy beaches. Have a word.
 
#8
FORMER_FYRDMAN said:
Sorry but, under the circumstances, why is seven dead in this timeframe, even by suicide, remotely remarkable? That level of loss gets you about half an inch up the Normandy beaches. Have a word.
Are you some sort of cnut?

How can you compare the needless deaths (suicide) of a modern fighting force to the deaths involved in a very bloody method of attack?

Why don't you have a fcuking word with yourself.

If these deaths could be avoided, then we need to find out how, and make sure that we reduce such deaths.
 

FORMER_FYRDMAN

LE
Book Reviewer
#9
chocolate_frog said:
FORMER_FYRDMAN said:
Sorry but, under the circumstances, why is seven dead in this timeframe, even by suicide, remotely remarkable? That level of loss gets you about half an inch up the Normandy beaches. Have a word.
Are you some sort of cnut?

How can you compare the needless deaths (suicide) of a modern fighting force to the deaths involved in a very bloody method of attack?

Why don't you have a fcuking word with yourself.

If these deaths could be avoided, then we need to find out how, and make sure that we reduce such deaths.
1. Suicides in this circumstance are not needless deaths - they are probably commensurate with the number of soldiers subjected to combat strain and commited to a given campaign on a demonstrably statistical basis - I hate the maths as much as anyone but I can't change it.
2. In terms of "How I can you compare the needless deaths (suicide) of a modern fighting force to the deaths involved in a very bloody method of attack?" quite simply - attack Omaha in a "modern manner" and see what you get.

Yes, we need to find out if and how we can minimise death by suicide and minimise the overall effects of PTSD as a whole but don't come to me with seven dead as part of the main effort of a global superpower's military main effort and tell me how horrible it all is (and please don't do so in the vicinity of anyone wearing a star).

If you're part of a decent unit (i.e. any in the British Army) you've lost more than seven men in a year before now and in a good cause (and not just because of 'a bloody method of attack'). If that definition doesn't qualify you, then I don't give a sh1t for your view and I will pass on to you the details of the first noose-making class I happen upon.

In short, stuff off you grandstanding knob and 'holier than thou' pr1ck. I am painfully aware of PTSD and its possible effects and, if I wasn't, I have my former comrades to remind me.

That said, I'd hate to be considered a dinosaur or a bully so, do us both a favour - next Rememberance Day, find the bloke with the most authentic bling on his chest and tell him about your view of the unacceptability of taking seven casualties on a military operation, and then post his response.

Chocolate Frog? You're not even that useful.


Edited once for spelling and to add that I am not denigrating seven deaths, I'm just trying to put them into perspective.
 

Sixty

ADC
Moderator
Book Reviewer
#11
Goldbricker said:
leveller said:
A fair number of which, I would guess are on national service? And may not of wanted to be a soldier in the first place.
Draft ended in 1973. We have been All-Volunteer since then.
I suspect he meant National Guard rather than national service, Goldbricker.

There were reports over here (that I can't find at the moment) which suggested TA blokes coped less well with the transition from ops to civilian life than regulars.
 
#12
A Sergeant from My former Unit Killed Himself in January down at Ft. Bragg.

He had been shot in the forearm(by a 7.62X54R in Kunar Province), round traveling up his arm and exiting his shoulder blade after shattering the ulna and shoulder joint in April 2008.

He was assigned to the Wounded Warrior Transition Unit and assigned to rake leaves and pick up cigarette butts, in between therapy and operations. Bragg tends to have the mindset if you are on profile, hurt, or in the WWTU your a Malingerer. Currently a Congressional Investigation is being done after statistics showed you were 3 times more likely to recieve UCMJ punishment while assigned to that unit. So far we have had 2 Soldiers die there after surviving the evacuation process to the States. The other Sergeant died of a staph infection contracted at Womack Army Hospital
 
#13
Sixty said:
Goldbricker said:
leveller said:
A fair number of which, I would guess are on national service? And may not of wanted to be a soldier in the first place.
Draft ended in 1973. We have been All-Volunteer since then.
I suspect he meant National Guard rather than national service, Goldbricker.

There were reports over here (that I can't find at the moment) which suggested TA blokes coped less well with the transition from ops to civilian life than regulars.

Hmmm, My last unit ( 27th Light Infantry Brigade-NYARNG) finished it's Afghan tour in December 2008(sent a 2,000 man element for TF Phoenix) and has been already informed the Entire Brigade is going back this time within the year.
 
#14
Goldbricker said:
Hmmm, My last unit ( 27th Light Infantry Brigade-NYARNG) finished it's Afghan tour in December 2008(sent a 2,000 man element for TF Phoenix) and has been already informed the Entire Brigade is going back this time within the year.
Isn't Task Force Pheonix mentoring the ANA in Kabul? A maqssive difference to the fighting in Helmand and to a certain extent in Kandahar.
 
#15
still!! just over one a month is a pretty bad statistic for topping themselves!

with out putting a downer on the subject!! i think it will probably start affecting many more who have served or are serving over there !!

not good times!!
 
#16
FOR THE GRAMMAR POLICE: Capitalized "S" in Soldier is an Yankee convention and for this side of the pond, quite correct.

Like Goldbricker, I have been Regular Army infantry and National Guard, and a SNCO. I have served in Kosovo (2001) and Iraq (2005). I will be retiring this year after 20 years of service, half on active duty. I put this here in order to provide context for my comments.

Like the regular forces the NG is all volunteer. At this point in the varied wars, with 6 years of heavy NG involvement there can be no doubt in any Soldiers mind of the possibility, nay certainty that they will be deployed. In units that I have served in, the time servers, social soldiers, and benefit hounds have been cleared out for the most part. Most combat arms units are on at least their second one year tour in Iraq or Afghanistan. The new enlistees know what they are getting into. The re-enlistees the same. The monthly pay is quite low, though the educational benefits can be substantial. I have yet to meet someone who joined the NG post 2003 to feed their family. Plenty for fun, travel and adventure, and I am sure their are those in the trades that joined for technical skill, but they are also hard to find in infantry and cav units.

Regarding NG Soldiers having a harder time reintegrating to civil society, I can well believe it. The regulars, you come home together and spend time together and can keep an eye on each other. Some of the rural NG units are similar, the members having grown up, gone to school, and joined the military together, and in some cases spend an entire career together in the same company. Sons will follow their fathers. In some ways, it is the closest we have to the British regimental mentality. These lads can watch out for one another. But in my experience it is still harder than the active units. Some of the urban NG unit Soldiers have an even harder time, as the "outside" social structures have less cohesion.

I suspect the suicides are a statistical spike. There will be a CoC response to it. Suicide awareness and prevention training has improved greatly over the last five years. But at the end of the day, a certain number of poor souls that, for any number of reasons, find that eating a gun just makes more sense than any other course of action on a particular day. And we cannot catch them all.
 
#17
Unfortunately in all wars that last a certain time suicides do happen. What I find worrying is that the longer and more endless the wars seem, then the higher the possibility, which is what we are seeing here. Goldbricker expresses it well when he says that they returned in 2008 and are off back within the year.
So for the man on the ground the pertinent question is 'When will this ever end?'
evidence of winning will mitigate this, but do the soldiers see a winning situation?
So the question facing the military is that how do they assure that their troops do not see the curling up to a rifle as preferable to continuing what they are doing.
How can they do this? Closer observation? Better decompression? (1) Better support on return. That Sgt. picking up cig ends is understandable in that he was effectively abandoned.
The longer this goes on the more this will happen.

No, I haven't been out, I'm an old crusty Cold War type, so I will bow to current wisdom, but I find the situation worrying, as it is symptomatic of a deeper malaise.

(1) Spike Milligan recounted that in 1943 in Italy after being in action continuously for some time a soldier committed suicide in a corridor.
"Lucky bastard" said Nash, I think we were all feeling like that.
At 1530 hours came the orders that might have saved his life "17 and 19 Batteries will move to the rear for refitting and rest".

Decompression should be attended to.
Do our lads feel that they are well enough attended to in this respect on the apparent shoestring budget and short-handed operation that the Government has handed to the Army? I would be interested in the replies.
 
#18
Fallschirmjager said:
Goldbricker said:
Hmmm, My last unit ( 27th Light Infantry Brigade-NYARNG) finished it's Afghan tour in December 2008(sent a 2,000 man element for TF Phoenix) and has been already informed the Entire Brigade is going back this time within the year.
Isn't Task Force Pheonix mentoring the ANA in Kabul? A maqssive difference to the fighting in Helmand and to a certain extent in Kandahar.
Yes, the last deployment was SECFOR for TF Phoenix for part of the force, the rest were broken down into ETT teams for the ANA/ANP. Several of the men with Sgt. "K" were at COP Joyce in Jalalabad, Kunar 2 miles from Pakistan.

In the 6-1/2 weeks his 9 man team was there, there were in 48 firefights while patrolling with the Afghan Border Police, and recieved indirect fire everyday. Others were put into LP/OP's overlooking the Pakistani Border, and some guarded Clearing Barrels in Kabul. Of their Casualties there I knew many from service in Baghdad prior to this.

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/us_...two_more_new_york_guardsmen_killed_in_af.html
 
#19
Fallschirmjager said:
Goldbricker said:
Hmmm, My last unit ( 27th Light Infantry Brigade-NYARNG) finished it's Afghan tour in December 2008(sent a 2,000 man element for TF Phoenix) and has been already informed the Entire Brigade is going back this time within the year.
Isn't Task Force Pheonix mentoring the ANA in Kabul? A maqssive difference to the fighting in Helmand and to a certain extent in Kandahar.
Quiet tours probably lend themselves to suicides more than 'lively' tours. My first Afghan tour was in Kabul. It was long, cold, dull, thankless and f*cking depressing.
 
#20
Sixty said:
Goldbricker said:
leveller said:
A fair number of which, I would guess are on national service? And may not of wanted to be a soldier in the first place.
Draft ended in 1973. We have been All-Volunteer since then.
I suspect he meant National Guard rather than national service, Goldbricker.

There were reports over here (that I can't find at the moment) which suggested TA blokes coped less well with the transition from ops to civilian life than regulars.
Apologies, my bold, that is what I meant, assuming the US is starting to use this element more.
 

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