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Jan 29th, 2009

Suicides Continue Alarming Rise in Military

Army schedules service-wide ‘stand-down’ to train all soldiers


Fighting military suicides (NBC News, Jan. 22, 2009) – The Army says it is working hard to change the military stigma attached to suicide so soldiers can get more help. James Jarman of NBC station KOAA in Colorado Springs, Colo., reports. (01:11)

By Courtney Kube and Alex Johnson
 and .com
January 28, 2009

WASHINGTON — Suicide rates among active-duty U.S. military personnel are continuing to rise even as the Defense Department dedicates more resources to identifying troubled service members and getting them the help they need, NBC News has learned.

At least 125 soldiers were confirmed to have killed themselves in 2008, compared with 115 in 2007, 102 in 2006 and 87 in 2005, a senior defense official told NBC News. Last year’s figure is likely to rise even higher, because the Army is investigating at least 17 other deaths as possible suicides.

The Marine Corps reported 41 possible suicides last year, up from 33 in 2007, a defense official said, while the Navy and the Air Force saw smaller increases. The officials, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity, disclosed the figures ahead of a public roundtable scheduled for Thursday to discuss suicides in the military.

According to figures compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the civilian suicide rate was 11 per 100,000 Americans in 2005, the last year for which fully adjusted national figures are available.

Officials said the Marine Corps rate was 19 per 100,000 Marines in 2008, while for the Air Force, it was 11.5, and for the Navy, it was 11.3. All three rates represented statistically significant rises over the same figures in 2007.

The officials did not provide a comparable breakdown for suicides in the Army, but the ratio works out to roughly 18 per 100,000 soldiers in 2008, pending open investigations and accounting for differing methods of counting the overall active-duty Army force.

And exact comparisons could be misleading because the makeup of the military forces does not mirror that of American society as a whole. But among the segment of the civilian population  that most closely reflects the demographic makeup of the military — males ages 18 to 24 — about 19.8 Americans committed suicide per 100,000 in 2005, according to CDC figures.

While the active-duty military force is expanding, the rate of suicides is growing even faster among all four services, a phenomenon that has alarmed defense officials.

“They’ve lost buddies,” said Army Brig. Gen. Loree K. Sutton, director of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury. “They’ve been exposed to the most corrosive environment known to warfare — physically, psychologically, spiritually and morally.” …


Related report

Army to Report Record Number of Suicides

Kevin Lucey, seen here in 2007, says his ex-Marine son, who killed himself, didn't get the treatment he needed.
Kevin Lucey, seen here in 2007, says his ex-Marine son, who killed himself, didn’t get the treatment he needed. (Photo credit: Getty Images)

Jan. 28, 2009

Story Highlights

  • Army to report 128 confirmed suicides, 15 suspected suicides in 2008
  • Number is Army’s highest for one year since tracking began in 1980
  • Army in 2007 had 115 confirmed suicides — previously the highest number


4/15/11 Update

Ex-Marine, Veterans’ Advocate Kills Himself


Suicide prevention advocate takes own life (MSNBC, April 15, 2011) — One of the military’s most vocal suicide prevention advocates tragically took his own life. The parents of the former Marine speak to MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts. (06:57)

The Associated Press via
April 15, 2011

WASHINGTON — Handsome and friendly, Clay Hunt so epitomized a vibrant Iraq veteran that he was chosen for a public service announcement that told veterans that they aren’t alone.

The 28-year-old former Marine corporal earned a Purple Heart after taking a sniper’s bullet in his left wrist. He returned to combat in Afghanistan. Upon his return home, he lobbied for veterans on Capitol Hill, road-biked with wounded veterans and performed humanitarian work in Haiti and Chile.

Then, on March 31, Hunt bolted himself in his Houston apartment and shot himself.

Friends and family say he was wracked with survivor’s guilt, depression and other emotional struggles after combat.

Hunt’s death has shaken many veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those who knew him wonder why someone who seemed to be doing all the right things to deal with combat-related issues is now dead. …

Full story


Related reports on this site

Reported Fragging in Iraq (Sept. 27, 2010)

Heartbreak at Ft. Hood (Nov. 5, 2009)

GI Opens Fire on U.S. Troops in Iraq (May 12, 2009)

Army Ponders Suicide Prevention (Feb. 7, 2009)

Army: Stunning Spike in Suicides (Feb. 6, 2009)

Military Suicides Continue to Rise (Jan. 29, 2009)

Army Issues Statement on Suicides (Jan. 23, 2009)

Military Suicides Probed (Nov. 12, 2008)


U.S. Military Deaths in Iraq

As of Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2009, at least 4,236 members of the U.S. military had died in the Iraq war since it began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. …

Latest identification:

Army Staff Sgt. Roberto Andrade Jr., 26, Chicago, died Jan. 18, 2009 in Baghdad when an explosive struck his vehicle. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 66th Armor, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.


In Iraq’s North, Ethnic Strife Flares As Vote Looms

Image: A U.S. soldier kneels by wall plastered with provincial election posters
A U.S. soldier kneels beside a wall plastered with provincial election posters during a patrol in central Baghdad on Saturday. This weekend’s vote is expected to bring a dramatic power shift in Iraq’s Nineveh province. (Photo credit: Ahmad al-Rubaye / AFP — Getty Images)

By Ernesto Londoño
The Washington Post
January 28, 2009


QARAQOSH, Iraq — Iraq’s upcoming provincial elections have exacerbated tensions along the ethnically mixed frontier between the traditionally Arab parts of the country and its Kurdish autonomous region in the north.

As Election Day looms in Nineveh province, where the most dramatic power shift is expected, Sunni Arab politicians are vowing to curb the influence of the Kurdish regional government, which in recent years has sent millions of dollars and thousands of soldiers into villages south of the territory it formally controls.

The 2005 elections, which most Sunni Arabs boycotted, left Nineveh province solidly in the hands of Kurds, a minority in the predominantly Arab province. The Kurds currently hold 31 of the 37 seats on the provincial council, the equivalent of an American state legislature. In the vote set for Saturday, Arabs in Nineveh are widely expected to win a comfortable majority.

Taking the reins of Nineveh’s government would allow Arabs to appoint a governor and use their political power to roll back Kurdish expansion, which is being bitterly contested in villages across the 300-mile swath of disputed territories, as well as in Baghdad and in Irbil, the capital of the Kurdish autonomous region.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite Arab, and Massoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdistan Regional Government, have exchanged heated accusations in recent weeks, underscoring the intensity of a conflict that U.S. officials and Iraq experts have come to view as Iraq’s most potentially destabilizing. …

Shortly after the U.S.-led invasion, the Kurdish government began deploying soldiers of its militia, the pesh merga, to towns in Nineveh and other provinces that border the Kurdish region. In the years that followed, as the Iraqi army and police forces were disbanded and a burgeoning insurgency took control of vast stretches of the country, the presence of the Kurdish militia drew little criticism. …

Nineveh has become Iraq’s most restive province. As violence has ebbed across the country in recent months, the U.S. military has shifted troops and resources to Mosul, now among the country’s most dangerous cities.

Governance of the province, by all accounts, has been disastrous. The sitting provincial council does not dispute that, but it blames the central government in Baghdad for withholding its budgeted funds and otherwise thwarting the authority of local leaders.

Much of Mosul remains in shambles. Millions of dollars that the central government sent to the province last year to fund reconstruction projects have vanished. Tens of thousands of residents have been displaced, including many Christian families who fled the city last fall amid a string of killings. …

U.S. and Iraqi officials say they fear that the perception of unfair elections on the part of either side, or both, could trigger a fresh wave of violence. On Tuesday, a bomb detonated near an office of the Kurdistan Democratic Party in Mosul, killing three policemen. …

Even if the political stalemate doesn’t turn violent, a protracted fight over disputed areas is likely to create breathing room for insurgent groups such as al-Qaeda in Iraq, which has clung onto Mosul.

“Nineveh is a place where all the fault lines of Iraq meet,” a senior U.S. official in Baghdad said. …


Related reports

Iraq War Drags On in Mosul (Nov. 12, 2008)

Much of Mosul Reduced to Rubble (Oct. 27, 2008)


Obama Presses South Africa on Zimbabwe

Traders sell groceries near a poster of Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe at an open-air market in Mabvuku neighborhood in the capital Harare, Jan. 26, 2009. (Photo credit: Reuters / Philimon Bulawayo)

Jan. 28, 2009

WASHINGTON — U.S. President Barack Obama spoke by phone with South African President Kgalema Motlanthe and said Pretoria had an important role to play in helping resolve Zimbabwe’s political crisis, the White House said on Wednesday.

“President Obama emphasized the importance of South Africa’s leadership role as a strong and vibrant democracy in Africa. The two leaders discussed their shared concerns about the situation in Zimbabwe,” the White House said in a statement.

“The president noted that South Africa holds a key role in helping to find a resolution to the political crisis in Zimbabwe,” the statement said.

Zimbabwe’s economy is in ruins with runaway inflation. A cholera epidemic has killed nearly 2,900 people since August.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, have been deadlocked in talks to form a power-sharing government.

The State Department said on Monday that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was concerned by Mugabe’s refusal to reach a deal and wanted South Africa, which has the most regional economic and diplomatic clout, to put more pressure on him.


Related links

Personality Profile of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe

‘Top 10 Humanitarian Crises’ of 2008

5 Responses to “Military Suicides Continue to Rise”
  1. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Military Suicides Probed Says:

    […] Military Suicides Continue to Rise (Jan. 29, 2009) […]

  2. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Army Ponders Suicide Prevention Says:

    […] Military Suicides Continue to Rise (Jan. 29, 2009) […]

  3. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Army: Stunning Spike in Suicides Says:

    […] Military Suicides Continue to Rise (Jan. 29, 2009) […]

  4. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Army Issues Statement on Suicides Says:

    […] Military Suicides Continue to Rise (Jan. 29, 2009) […]

  5. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Bachmann: Freeze Veterans’ Health Care, Slash Disability Compensation Says:

    […] Military Suicides Continue to Rise […]

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