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The Military Is Broken

CNN reports that Army suicides set another yearly record

Washington (CNN) — Suicides among soldiers this year have topped last year’s record-breaking numbers, but Army officials maintain a recent trend downward could mean the service is making headway on its programs designed to reduce the problem, Army officials said Tuesday.

Since January, 140 active-duty soldiers have killed themselves while another 71 Army Reserve and National Guard soldiers killed themselves in the same time period, totaling 211 as of Tuesday, Gen. Peter Chiarelli, U.S. Army vice chief of staff, told reporters at a briefing Tuesday. But he said the monthly numbers are starting to slow down as the year nears its end.

Not only is the trend up overall, but it is up among soldiers who haven’t deployed to a war zone, and December is traditionally a terrible month for suicides. People are overstressed and this is a clear indication of the problem, along with the increasing rates of domestic and substance abuse.


1 fallenmonk { 11.17.09 at 9:05 pm }

The frightening thing is that the suicides are basically equal to the combat deaths in Iraq. This is bad on many levels and just a symptom of the problems in the military caused by our policies in Iraq and Afghanistan. Rapid rotation, no down time, undefined mission, no clear end point…all are contributing.
.-= last blog ..Frightening Statistic =-.

2 Bryan { 11.17.09 at 9:13 pm }

It may be that they don’t ever get R&R, any real down time to forget and heal. The military people I see in town all act like their first sergeant is standing right behind them.

With fewer base choices and unit, instead of individual, deployment, if you have a problem with someone, you can’t just wait out a change of station any more.

3 Badtux { 11.18.09 at 10:38 am }

You would expect about 80 suicides per year of active-duty Army if Army personnel committed suicide at the same rate as the rest of the USA. So it looks like this suicide rate is twice as high as you’d expect. Which is decidedly alarming, even if not as alarming as it could be if you just looked at the raw number without putting it into the context of the U.S. suicide rate.

– Badtux the Statistics Penguin
.-= last blog ..Wednesday morning hangdog economist music blogging =-.

4 Bryan { 11.18.09 at 1:15 pm }

I know, the demographic is prone to suicide and risky behavior generally, but the number are so out of what that there has to be an environment reason.

They may be going overboard on the “good order and discipline” to counter the natural resistance to troop rotations that violate the standards. Having 30 days of paid vacation only has meaning if you have time to take it. I would like to see the pay records for accumulated leave. Normally the young troops have about a week left at any given point in the year. If there is a trend for over 30 days in the leave bank for guys under 4 years, it means there isn’t time to take leave and decompress.

5 CMJ Photography { 11.26.09 at 12:08 pm }

I think that this is terrible. People should be happy not worried.
.-= last blog ..Another New Video… =-.

6 Kryten42 { 11.26.09 at 6:56 pm }

It’s pretty bad. It’s not just suicides that have increased, but homicide, divorce, mental health problems are all increasing significantly. Just another fine example of the vaunted *family values* and patriotism (or really, ‘talk is cheap’ and hypocrite rules).

War swells US army divorce rate

US soldiers in Iraq can find stress deadlier than enemy


7 Kryten42 { 11.26.09 at 6:57 pm }
8 Bryan { 11.26.09 at 9:08 pm }

Same as it ever was – The Republicans buy toys, and Democrats help the boys – as one of my old Sergeants used to say after another year without a pay raise, of the loss of a long established benefit.

They didn’t modernize the regulations when they shifted from the draft-supported military to an all volunteer force, which means that none of the really useful benefits kick in until the second tour.

The reliance on the Guard and Reserve, as well as the multiple deployments and broken promises, almost guarantees results like this. It was bad enough in SEA, and that was only a year, with no return unless you volunteered, or everyone else in your specialty had had a tour. You could do some planning, Your family had plenty of notice. Life was somewhat normal, and you weren’t stuck at a single base – great if you liked the area, but torture if you hated it.

I once recommended that people have tour in the military to get their minds together for life, earn some money, get help with college, learn some discipline, but no more – because that is no longer true.