Sixteen American soldiers killed themselves in October in the U.S. and on duty overseas, an unusually high monthly toll that is fueling concerns about the mental health of the nation’s military personnel after more than eight years of continuous warfare.
The Army’s top generals worry that surging tens of thousands more troops into Afghanistan could increase the strain felt by many military personnel after years of repeated deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.
The October suicide figures mean that at least 134 active-duty soldiers have taken their own lives so far this year, putting the Army on pace to break last year’s record of 140 active-duty suicides. The number of Army suicides has risen 37% since 2006, and last year, the suicide rate surpassed that of the U.S. population for the first time.
The suicide rate in the Army, like the unemployment rate here at home, just keeps rising and rising. But the Army is on the case, and they’re taking proactive steps to deal with the problem. In conjunction with the National Institute of Mental Health, they’ll be conducting a five year long, $50 million dollar study “to better identify the factors that cause some soldiers to take their own lives.”
I’m no psychologist, but I think I might be able to save the Army some money here. Sending people half way around the world to be shot at, maimed or killed for no damn reason at all, for no goddamn reason at all, tends to be bad for their mental health.
That might be one of the risk factors you should examine over the next five years.