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June Army suicide rate up

The U.S. Army suffered 32 suicides in June, the highest number for a single month since the suicide rate in the Army began to spike in January 2009.

The boost in the suicide rate for June is likely being driven by the "continued stresses on the force" caused by the Iraq and Afghan wars, said Col. Chris Philbrick, the director of the Army's suicide prevention task force. The Army has poured extensive manpower and money into getting a handle on the suicide rate, and until last month had begun to see some tentative signs that the suicide rate was trending downward among active duty troops.

The June numbers, however, represent a disappointing setback, and suggest that after nine years of combat, the Army is showing some serious signs of strain. The initial results from the first two weeks of July suggest that the suicide rate for this month will not be as high.

So far this year 80 active duty soldiers have committed suicide or are suspected of having committed suicide, down from 88 through the first six months of last year. The Army National Guard, by contrast, has seen 65 suicides in 2010, up from 42 last year.

The total number of Army suicides in June was about the same as the number of Army troops who were killed in Afghanistan last month in what was the deadliest month for U.S. and NATO forces of the nine-year-old war.

U.S. Army officials are at a bit of a loss to explain the increase in National Guard suicides, which could be linked to the combined stress of the war and the growing strain on the U.S. economy. "There is no indication that the National Guard's operational tempo has increased," Philbrick said.

By Greg Jaffe  | July 16, 2010; 1:54 PM ET
 
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Comments

Isn't there some way to qualify these figures on suicides? How many civilians per hundred thousand in the same age group commit suicide? How does this percentage compare to the military percentage?

Come on, Gregg. Couldn't you have put just a little more effort into this report?

Tim

Posted by: twhite8611 | July 16, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

There is still a great deal of stigma surrounding a Soldier's getting help. The Army needs to aggressively promote cultural change. That means not merely talking about it but incorporating language regarding support of Soldiers seeking mental health care into all efficiency reports.

(This means every EER, NCO-ER, and OER; see example at [look towards the end]. http://www.army.mil/info/organization/unitsandcommands/commandstructure/theoldguard/downloads/ar623_205.pdf).

Career Soldiers, in particular, take these performance evaluations very seriously; they are closely linked to pay and advancement. This should occur immediately, and not at the next revision several years from now; lives are at stake. There should be explicit language after the rated Army Value of RESPECT built right into every evaluation form; perhaps language under leadership [on the NCO-ER] as well.

There is a successful precedent: this is how the Army let Soldiers know that they were serious about EO/race relations.

Posted by: ArmyGI | July 16, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

SCOFFLAW SCAMNESTY For Illegal Aliens ,,, Is TREASON , Against AMERICAN Workers And The U.S. UNEMPLOYED !!!

Posted by: lennybeachboy999 | July 17, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

SCOFFLAW SCAMNESTY For Illegal Aliens ,,, Is TREASON , Against AMERICAN Workers And The U.S. UNEMPLOYED !!!

Posted by: lennybeachboy999 | July 17, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

We taught our young men values that reflect the American Dream. They were never prepared for this Nightmare. Post traumatic stress disorder, drug addiction, antisocial behavior -- are WE prepared for it? Don't call them, for heaven's sake, unintended consequences.

Posted by: eliseom | July 18, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Error: I have not submitted a comment in weeks. No valid reason for rejection.

Posted by: eliseom | July 18, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Probably the only sensible and honorable thing they can do after realizing the horror of their participation in the killing of thousand of innocent civilians as “collateral damage.”

Posted by: maineginger | July 19, 2010 11:31 PM | Report abuse

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