Army Suicides Doubled In July
The suicide problem among active duty troops seems to be getting worse:
The Army says suicides among active-duty soldiers more than doubled in July from the month before.
That marks an acceleration of a military-wide trend this year that has caused Pentagon leaders to step up their search for solutions to a problem that has worsened in 2012 as the pace of combat has eased.
The Army had 26 suicides in July among active-duty soldiers, compared to 12 in June. In May it had 16.
Among Army Reserve soldiers not on active duty, there were 12 suicides in July — the same as in June.
So far, there have been 116 suicides by active duty soldiers this year. At that pace, there would be more than 200 by the end of 2012. In 2011, there were 167.
When I wrote about this in June, I made this observation:
One of the prices of a military that has been at war for a decade, and which was being deployed in minor actions in the Balkans and Somalia for the decade before that, is not only that the military gets stretched at the material level, but that the men doing the fighting get pushed further to the brink then we’ve ever asked any other group of fighting men to do before. Only Vietnam compares to the length of time that we’ve been at a war so far and, even now, we’re not scheduled to be fully disengaged from combat operations until 2014. At least in Vietnam, though, the practice of sending soldiers back to the theater of operations multiple times was not nearly as common. In some sense, then, we’re just learning now what that kind of continual mental and physical stress can do to a person, even one in the kind of top-notch physical condition that combat soldiers typically are.
Perhaps what we’re learning here is the cost of endless war.