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Suicides in January 'terrifying'

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Suicides in January 'terrifying'

Old 02-05-2009, 04:39 PM
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Default Suicides in January 'terrifying'

You can't continue to task Soldiers and push OpTempo to the breaking point, and expect not to have these results. I have a nephew, going on 3rd deployment, brother in law 4th deployment. This is from 2003. Something needs to be done.



WASHINGTON (CNN) -- One week after the U.S. Army announced record suicide rates among its soldiers last year, the service is worried about a spike in possible suicides in the new year.


If reports of suicides are confirmed, more soldiers will have taken their lives in January than died in combat.

The Army said 24 soldiers are believed to have committed suicide in January alone -- six times as many as killed themselves in January 2008, according to statistics released Thursday.

The Army said it already has confirmed seven suicides, with 17 additional cases pending that it believes investigators will confirm as suicides for January.

If those prove true, more soldiers will have killed themselves than died in combat last month. According to Pentagon statistics, there were 16 U.S. combat deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq in January.

"This is terrifying," an Army official said. "We do not know what is going on."

Col. Kathy Platoni, chief clinical psychologist for the Army Reserve and National Guard, said that the long, cold months of winter could be a major contributor to the January spike.

"There is more hopelessness and helplessness because everything is so dreary and cold," she said.

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But Platoni said she sees the multiple deployments, stigma associated with seeking treatment and the excessive use of anti-depressants as ongoing concerns for mental-health professionals who work with soldiers.

Those who are seeking mental-health care often have their treatment disrupted by deployments. Deployed soldiers also have to deal with the stress of separations from families.

"When people are apart you have infidelity, financial problems, substance abuse and child behavioral problems," Platoni said. "The more deployments, the more it is exacerbated."

Platoni also said that while the military has made a lot of headway in training leaders on how to deal with soldiers who may be suffering from depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, "there is still a huge problem with leadership who shame them when they seek treatment."

The anti-depressants prescribed to soldiers can have side effects that include suicidal thoughts. Those side effects reportedly are more common in people 18 to 24.

Concern about last month's suicide rate was so high, Congress and the Army leadership were briefed. In addition, the Army took the rare step of releasing data for the month rather than waiting to issue it as part of annual statistics at the end of the year.

In January 2008, the Army recorded two confirmed cases of suicides and two other cases it was investigating.

Last week, in releasing the report that showed a record number of suicides in 2008, the Army said it soon will conduct servicewide training to help identify soldiers at risk of suicide.

The program, which will run February 15 through March 15, will include training to recognize behaviors that may lead to suicide and instruction on how to intervene. The Army will follow the training with another teaching program, from March 15 to June 15, focused on suicide prevention at all unit levels.

The 2008 numbers were the highest annual level of suicides among soldiers since the Pentagon began tracking the rate 28 years ago. The Army said 128 soldiers were confirmed to have committed suicide in 2008, and an additional 15 were suspected of having killed themselves. The statistics cover active-duty soldiers and activated National Guard and reserves.

The Army's confirmed rate of suicides in 2008 was 20.2 per 100,000 soldiers. The nation's suicide rate was 19.5 per 100,000 people in 2005, the most recent figure available, Army officials said last month.

Suicides for Marines were also up in 2008. There were 41 in 2008, up from 33 in 2007 and 25 in 2006, according to a Marines report.

In addition to the new training, the service has a program called Battlemind, intended to prepare soldiers and their families to cope with the stresses of war before, during and after deployment. It also is intended to help detect mental-health issues before and after deployments.

The Army and the National Institute of Mental Health signed an agreement in October to conduct research to identify factors affecting the mental and behavioral health of soldiers and to share strategies to lower the suicide rate. The five-year study will examine active-duty, National Guard and reserve soldiers and their families.
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Old 02-05-2009, 05:00 PM
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I saw this report today and immediately thought to myself, what can we do about this as citizens. I don't know. It is very sad. I'm not old enough to remember either WW, and I was a kid during Vietnam. But I go out of my way to say thank you to anyone in uniform. I don't care if they are a cook or weatherman.

I don't trust the Govt. to come up with an answer which is the biggest problem. My heart goes out to these guys that have to deal with this crap..
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Old 02-05-2009, 05:21 PM
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Soldiers have been told to man up for so long. You can't blame this solely on the war. Familes have been forgotten for so long, this was just a matter of time. I was lucky because I had the ability to speak to my wife on a sat phone every day. Most are not able to do that, and when a young man has to deal with his buddies dying, it is hard. My nephew does not speak about what he did (infantry) but I know it affected him. Heather has PTSD, from going on raids with the door knockers.
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Old 02-05-2009, 05:24 PM
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I can only guess here, but losing your buddies pales in comparison to the other things they have to do.
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Old 02-05-2009, 06:09 PM
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A local copter pilot just about to retire and move into civvie street. Teenage son and two younger children. Unexplicably committed suicide this week. Had it all going for him.

Something is up
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Old 02-06-2009, 05:57 AM
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Did you see this stat - "The Army's confirmed rate of suicides in 2008 was 20.2 per 100,000 soldiers. The nation's suicide rate was 19.5 per 100,000 people in 2005, the most recent figure available, Army officials said last month. "

Seems like its an article about nothing if this stat is right. Forgive me if I missed something else in the article to say otherwise. I wonder what you'd find if you checked out the rate among Wall Street workers, or .....???
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Old 02-06-2009, 06:08 AM
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i hear you Jim. facts are facts........but also consider that those are "Army facts" which may or may not be an actual fact. the military will lie about and twist things beyond belief.

there is one interesting fact that many may not know.........that is, if your survive your suicide attempt, the Army will promptly court martial you as soon as you are healthy enough.
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Old 02-06-2009, 06:10 AM
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TheShortAnswer - 2/6/2009 9:08 AM

i hear you Jim. facts are facts........but also consider that those are "Army facts" which may or may not be an actual fact. the military will lie about and twist things beyond belief.

there is one interesting fact that many may not know.........that is, if your survive your suicide attempt, the Army will promptly court martial you as soon as you are healthy enough.
Please back up your "fact" by citing some kind of example.

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Old 02-06-2009, 06:58 AM
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The office that handles all deaths in the Army is 10 feet from my desk. 24 suicides is high for the military. You can't mix the civilian population for comparrison.
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Old 02-06-2009, 07:14 AM
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I don't think you can compare a cross-section of normal citizens with that of our military. The majority of people serving in the military(including active reserves) are 28-42 years of age. I think a comparison between that particular age goup would be more telling.
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Old 02-06-2009, 07:18 AM
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If you want to be concerned....look at the number of soldiers that are dying in motorcycle wrecks.

It is my understanding the rate of deaths increased in 2008 when compared to 2007.


===============

This is of great importance this year in the military as recent statistics show the number of motorcycle related fatalities. The rate of motorcycle fatalities for the year 2007 was 93 service wide and of these 25 were soldiers in the Army and this is the highest rate non-combat related deaths in the military services for soldiers not deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan.

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Old 02-06-2009, 07:29 AM
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Kingair,

What do you suppose the suicide rate was during WWI or WWII? Don't you suspect the OP-Tempo rate was considerably higher? Was the suicide rate higher or lower?

Suicide is always a tragedy. Finding histrionic people to quote is easy pickings for some media type looking for an article. The number of suicides in one month is high.

I figure an article like this is kind of like looking at one month's weather temp's and deciding once and for all that manmade global warming is real or otherwise.

The army does not cause suicide anymore than fork's caused Rosie O'Donnell to be fat. Girl friends, wives, families, and other stressors often are just as responsible for these catastrophe's as job and service. No mention of these things either.

Worthless article that highlights numbers, blames DOD, and offers nothing.

Just another media outlet trying to sell adds in a down market.
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Old 02-06-2009, 07:31 AM
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The anti-depressants prescribed to soldiers can have side effects that include suicidal thoughts. Those side effects reportedly are more common in people 18 to 24.
daahhhh Depression and suicidal thoughts go together like butter on toast, yet the anti- depressant that is handed out might enhance suicidal thoughts. Like WTF!


Loosing 20.2 per 100,000 soldiers is sad , but the real tragedy is the number of soldiers that are pushing the envelop of suicide and those that are just knocking on the door.
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Old 02-06-2009, 08:44 AM
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Dear John letters were reported as the core reason. Can't remember who it was. Fox, CNN, ?????.

If they had only waited a few months. Sad anyway you look at it.
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Old 02-06-2009, 09:25 AM
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dssmith - 2/6/2009 6:29 AM

The army does not cause suicide anymore than fork's caused Rosie O'Donnell to be fat. Girl friends, wives, families, and other stressors often are just as responsible for these catastrophe's as job and service. No mention of these things either.
I would beg to differ. The stress of a soldier in combat does not compare to a typical day back home. The type of operations and the things that soldiers do and see do not compare to a typical day back home. At home you can call in sick, transfer, quite, etc no so in a combat zone. With regards to women and families, long distance relation ships are hard but these guys can not make a quick trip home to deal with something over the weekend, nope you have to wait for the end of your tour.

I am not blaming the military but you can not claim that the requirements of the military and the situation that they put you in does not contribute to the case for suicides.

Having said that, I agree with kingair that these numbers sound high because the training for the military is fairly stressful and tends to weed out many of the weaker individuals so we have realatively strong, both physicaly and mentally, soldiers that crack under the pressure.
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Old 02-06-2009, 09:30 AM
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I may be wrong but dssmith may mean that the additional homeside stressors (divorce, cheating, spouse spending all the money or otherwise on the verge of bankruptcy, kid sick, parents sick......) in combination with active duty in a combat zone in which there is no "rear" can be overwhelming for some.
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Old 02-06-2009, 09:33 AM
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dssmith - 2/6/2009 10:29 AM

Kingair,

What do you suppose the suicide rate was during WWI or WWII? Don't you suspect the OP-Tempo rate was considerably higher? Was the suicide rate higher or lower?
I agree to a point. Most Soldiers did not return from fighting during WW2 or Vietnam and return multiple times. In Vietnam you served one year and rotated back, unless you wanted to return or extended. This is not true of OEF/OIF. Soldiers are going over 3 or 4 times.

I am not blaming one person for this. It is what it is. There is enough tradegy to go around for a bunch of people to responsibilty for.

Long deployments, seperation from familes can be overcome by alot of people. As I said, I did not like being away, but I am 43. It is alot harder for a 19 year old to be away and fight.
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