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Army suicide rate is climbing rapidly

Mark Dombeck, Ph.D. was Director of Mental Help Net from 1999 to 2011. Dr. Dombeck received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in 1995 ...Read More

I saw this the other night and thought it useful to repost it so that more can understand the magnitude of the problem.  The article is titled "Army suicide rate could top nation’s this year", and it appears on the CNN website. 

Essentially, conditions in the American military are so bad right now for soldiers, mental health-wise (as a consequence of post-traumatic stress (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), the fatiguing effect of multiple repeated tours of duty, financial stress at home, etc.) that they are committing suicide at near record rates.  A quote from the article makes the point: 

The rate of suicides among-active duty soldiers is on pace to surpass both last year’s numbers and the rate of suicide in the general U.S. population for the first time since the Vietnam war, according to U.S. Army officials.

As of August, 62 Army soldiers have committed suicide, and 31 cases of possible suicide remain under investigation, according to Army statistics. Last year, the Army recorded 115 suicides among its ranks, which was also higher than the previous year.

Army officials said that if the trend continues this year, it will pass the nation’s suicide rate of 19.5 people per 100,000, a 2005 figure considered the most recent by the government.

It is interesting to note that most of the time, the rate of suicide in the military (or the Army, at least) is lower than the civilian suicide rate.  I expect, however, that military entrance screening proceedures catch those most likely to kill themselves and exclude such individuals from serving.  While the rise in Army suicides most likely is explained as a reflection of the extremely difficult conditions that serving soldiers face, it may also be the case that as meeting recruitment goals has become more difficult, the army has altered their recruitment standards so as to be more welcoming to emotionally troubled people.  If anyone has knowledge about how best to intepret these findings, please do leave a comment to help the rest of us understand.  

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