“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Sunday, February 03, 2008

500% Increase in US Military Suicide Attempts

It has been obvious for some time that the burden placed on the US military over the past five years has been inordinately and unfairly proportioned. In a nation of three hundred million, very few are affected. The burden is exasperated by multiple tours not experienced by Viet Nam era troops. If this story is accurate, then we are seeing some of the consequences to our active military.


Every day, five U.S. soldiers try to kill themselves. Before the Iraq war began, that figure was less than one suicide attempt a day.

The dramatic increase is revealed in new U.S. Army figures, which show 2,100 soldiers tried to commit suicide in 2007.

"Suicide attempts are rising and have risen over the last five years," said Col. Elspeth Cameron-Ritchie, an Army psychiatrist.

Concern over the rate of suicide attempts prompted Sen. Jim Webb, D-Virginia, to introduce legislation Thursday to improve the military's suicide-prevention programs.

"Our troops and their families are under unprecedented levels of stress due to the pace and frequency of more than five years of deployments," Webb said in a written statement. Watch CNN Senior Pentagon Correspondent Jamie McIntyre on the reasons for the increase in suicides »

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, took to the Senate floor Thursday, urging more help for military members, especially for those returning from war.

"Our brave service members who face deployment after deployment without the rest, recovery and treatment they need are at the breaking point," Murray said.

She said Congress has given "hundreds of millions of dollars" to the military to improve its ability to provide mental health treatment, but said it will take more than money to resolve the problem.

"It takes leadership and it takes a change in the culture of war," she said. She said some soldiers had reported receiving nothing more than an 800 number to call for help.

"Many soldiers need a real person to talk to," she said. "And they need psychiatrists and they need psychologists."

According to Army statistics, the incidence of U.S. Army soldiers attempting suicide or inflicting injuries on themselves has skyrocketed in the nearly five years since the start of the Iraq war.

Last year's 2,100 attempted suicides -- an average of more than 5 per day -- compares with about 350 suicide attempts in 2002, the year before the war in Iraq began, according to the Army.

The figures also show the number of suicides by active-duty troops in 2007 may reach an all-time high when the statistics are finalized in March, Army officials said.

The Army lists 89 soldier deaths in 2007 as suicides and is investigating 32 more as possible suicides. Suicide rates already were up in 2006 with 102 deaths, compared with 87 in 2005.

Cameron-Ritchie, the Army psychiatrist, said suicide attempts are usually related to problems with intimate relationships, but they are also related to problems with work, finances and the law.

"The really tough area here is stigma. We know that soldiers don't want to go seek care. They're tough, they're strong, they don't want to go see a behavioral health-care provider," Cameron-Ritchie said.

Multiple deployments and long deployments appear to exact a toll on relationships, thereby boosting the number of suicide attempts, she said.

Traditionally, the suicide rate among military members has been lower than age- and gender-matched civilians. But in recent years the rate has crept up from 12 per 100,000 among the military to 17.5 per 100,000 in 2006, she said. That's still less than the civilian figure of about 20 per 100,000, she said.

The "typical" soldier who commits suicide is a member of an infantry unit who uses a firearm to carry out the act, according to the Army.

Post-traumatic stress disorder also may be a factor in suicide attempts, Cameron-Ritchie said, because it can result in broken relationships and often leads to drug and alcohol abuse.

"The real central issue is relationships. Relationships, relationships, relationships," said U.S. Army Chaplain Lt. Col. Ran Dolinger. "People look at PTSD, they look at length of deployments ... but it's that broken relationship that really makes the difference."

To reduce suicides, the Army said it is targeting soldiers who are or have been in Iraq for long periods and teaching them to notice signs that can lead to suicide.

That training came too late for Army Specialist Tim Bowman. The 23-year-old killed himself in 2005 after returning from Iraq.

"As my family was preparing for a 2005 Thanksgiving meal, our son Timothy was lying on the floor, slowly bleeding to death from a self-inflicted gunshot wound," said his father, Mike Bowman, in testimony to a House Veterans' Affairs committee hearing in December. "His war was now over."

He said veterans return home to find an "understaffed, under-funded, under-equipped" Veterans Affairs mental health system.


  1. 2100 "Tried;" but only 102 Succeeded?"

    I'm going to wait for the rest of the story.

  2. "There are approximately 3000 suicide ideators per 100 000 population and 500 suicide attempters per 100 000 population in the United States each year compared with only 14 suicide completers per 100 000 population. No statistically significant differences were found between the NCS and the NCS-R in the 12-month prevalence of any of the 4 outcomes: suicidal ideation suicide plans, suicide gestures."

  3. The military rate is aprox double the general population with 4.8% military versus 2.8% of the general population.

  4. Some of the polls have Obama ahead in California. I can't believe what's going on this year.

  5. Not only that, but Mitt seems ahead there as well--

    McCain, an Arizona senator, held a 2-to-1 margin in a new national Washington Post-ABC poll. In the Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll, McCain held double-digit leads in New York, New Jersey and Missouri but narrowly trails former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in California, the biggest prize on "Super Tuesday."

  6. I'm sure Fox News will have a "Breaking News" Alert! on that; right, Bob? Right?!?

    Oh . . . . never mind

  7. The IMHO ludicrous dry while deployed rule also takes its toll. No (legal anyway) unwinding in theatre, even on gruelling 12+ month deployments. The strategic corporal just cannot be trusted with a beer, let alone a ho. US forces were already credibly rumored to have a disproportionate number of suicide attempts compared to other forces back in Bosnia a decade ago. That was then, with six month tours and a fraction the danger.

    Tragic, and it ain't getting better soon.

  8. 2164th said...
    "The military rate is aprox double the general population with 4.8% military versus 2.8% of the general population."
    Once again, the Bar will have to debunk Deuce's MSM cites:
    Since the Male/Female ratio is much higher in the Services than the general population, and males are much more successful than females, doesn't this follow?

    (Haven't read story yet)

  9. As a member of The Sons of the American Revolution, with a strong and proud military family, I feel Our government has been playing games with our veterans ever since the Oneida Indian Nation fought in the Revolutionary War. They were among our first American Solders and took up arms against the British to help our nation earn its independence after our Revolution. Our new government used land seized from the British to compensate our veterans and the Oneida veterans were stripped of much of their original territory, by having 10 million acres of land taken from them. Look how they have been treated by an ungrateful country.
    Then the Civil War produced thousands of wandering veterans. Frequently addicted to opiates, they were known as tramps,Our first homeless vets, searching for jobs and, in many cases, literally still tending their wounds.
    More than a decade after the end of World War I, the Bonus Army descended on Washington - demanding immediate payment on benefits that had been promised to them, but payable years later ,and were routed out of Washington DC by the U.S. Military,led by George Patton. In 1946,The to end all wars, the VA had beds for about 82,000 patients but the VA rolls swelled to 15 million in just a few months and the hospitals were virtually all swamped. There were 26,000 non service related cases also on the waiting list. The VA was building new hospitals but had money for only 12,000 more beds. They came too few too late. The Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1952, called the Korean GI Bill, provided unemployment insurance, job placement, home loans and mustering-out benefits similar to those offered World War II veterans. The Korean GI Bill made several changes, however, in education benefits, reducing financial benefits generally and imposing new restrictions. The effect of the changes was that the benefit no longer completely covered the cost of the veteran’s education.
    The most publicly and perhaps most painfully,That comes to mind was Vietnam Tens of thousands of war weary veterans, infamously rejected,crazy, or just forgotten by many of their own fellow citizens,elected officials,demonized by the media.

    Presently our current service members have who have had repeated and extended deployments to war zones, have shown a rise in post-traumatic stress and other war-related wounds among troops,and 120 Suicides a week. While it is good to support your troops that are serving our interest it is better to demand accountability from those responsible for the lack of their care in these injuries. It is utterly disgusting that VA hospitals are turning away those most in need. Those in charge of VA hospitals need to take responsibility for their lack of actions. I believe the whole VA system needs an overhaul and very soon. More and more wounded troops coming home and they need both physical and mental health care.

    Our troops deserve the best of all aspects of care! Wake up, America! We fail to take care of our own as we should and I think it's time that we start.

    This will surprise nobody who has ever encountered the VA medical system. The entire operation is a horror show mostly run by lazy, self-important, arrogant and self-satisfied bureaucrats. This kind of treatment has been going on for years and years and years. VA hospitals are in hopeless situations. This type of treatment is the rule and not the exception for those who are closely associated with regular active duty military. It’s sad, but true.

    If certain services cannot be provided for a veteran or current military patients then they are suppose to be referred to a civilian facility with no cost to the service member or veterans. Many of our own are going without and this shouldn't be a surprise for the VA system when it comes to treating any new service related conditions by Ignorring it' In this situation, the Iraq veteran is in the same boat as the Vietnam veteran in the 1970's. At least now, they have a name for it,It's called PTSD, and like Agent Orange has been proven,So well depleted uranium be proven but the VA doesn't take it seriously tell a very large group of veterans die from their exposure.

    It's terrible that our country is still ignoring the cries of our vets. It's no surprise what is happening with the Syracuse Veterans Hospital if similar acts are occurring around the country. I've have made many attempts in the last four years to talk with Mr. Cody, the head of the VA hospital in Syracuse NY, about these conditions He is self-important, arrogant, with a “don't call me I'll call you” attitude and there has been no dialog. I believe that Mr. Jim Cody should tender his resignation for the good of our veterans.Veterans Preference....Staff the VA with Veterans!

    Dennis Thorp is a native of Frankfort and served as an U.S. Army medic during the Vietnam War. He is co-founder of Agent Orange Victims International.


  10. doug said...
    2164th said...
    "The military rate is aprox double the general population with 4.8% military versus 2.8% of the general population."
    Once again, the Bar will have to debunk Deuce's MSM cites:
    Since the Male/Female ratio is much higher in the Services than the general population, and males are much more successful than females, doesn't this follow?

    (Haven't read story yet)

    Sun Feb 03, 03:51:00 PM EST

    Your facts make sense but the relevant data is the increase in suicide attempts within the military..."Every day, five U.S. soldiers try to kill themselves. Before the Iraq war began, that figure was less than one suicide attempt a day." That being the case, the percentage increase is within the military and not skewed by the male/female proportions

  11. Doctho Good post. I may put it up as a lead.

  12. Fellas, I use the VA here in Memphis, and I've received Great Care.

    When I go in (which is often) I never hear anyone do any serious bitching.

    Every Doctor, Nurse, Receptionist, Janitor, and Orderly that I come in contact with is polite, helpful, friendly, and cheerful.

    Every time I turn around they're wanting to do another test, check-up, consultation, etc. The only problem I have is convincing them that I don't want to spend half of my life at the VA Hospital. Last year they noticed that I'd never had a Colonoscopy. They paid for a procedure at a top-flight clinic in city.

    Maybe Memphis is extraordinary, or something; but, I have a hunch the rest of them aren't as bad as they're sometimes made out to be.

    But, what do I know? Maybe I have Vietnam Dementia, or Sumthin.