Pentagon data reveals suicides are leading cause of death in prolonged wars. According to figures, suicide deaths are more common than combat deaths in the Iraq war toward its most recent conclusion. In Afghanistan, suicides have now outpaced combat deaths as well.
In Afghanistan this year, there have been 154 known or suspected suicides through to June 3. The Pentagon goes on to confirm the suspicion. Only 127 troops have died from combat deaths during that same time period.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has now ordered all military branches to evaluate mental health conditions of service members going back to 2001. In a statement to Congress on Wednesday, he said his goal is “to immediately look at that situation and determine what’s behind it, what’s causing it and what can we do to make sure it doesn’t happen.”
Turning the focus to the military overall reveals suicide is the second leading cause of military deaths. To put this into context, last year, 26 percent of military deaths were classified as combat deaths. An estimated 20 percent of deaths were from suicide, and 17 percent were from traffic accidents. In 2005, the number of deaths from suicide accounted for 10 percent of military deaths.
This year, all branches of service, excluding the Navy, are experiencing increases in military suicides. This is lead by the Army, which is spending $75 million to understand the problem.
Army Col. Car Castro is managing the research process to finding a solution. He admits that the Army was slow to respond, but points out that the reason was that the Army did not know “if it was just an anomaly or a real trend.”
Hesitant to embrace suicide prevention efforts, Castro states, “Everything we do in suicide prevention, there’s no evidence it works.”
The Pentagon is mystified about this effect from prolonged wars and seeks to “fix” the problem by throwing more money at the war effort.
The problem is that our military is in its 11th year of war. Our country has never had a longer war. Could it be that the cause of the suicides is that humans should not be in a constant state of fear and trauma, otherwise suicide rates increase?
Here is my suggestion. We should end the wars. Ok, Paneta, please cut me that check for $75 million. I just saved you 5 more years of delayed research time, which will point to the same conclusion.
Source: USA Today “Suicides No. 2 cause of death in military”