Mar 27, 2013

War is hell: Why Soldiers Keep Losing to Suicide | nearly 50% of suicides never saw combat

FRONTLINE | PBS: Most soldiers who take their own lives today have no history of deployment. They've never seen combat, never been to war.

Nobody really knows why.

And although the military's suicide problem flared during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, so far it doesn't seem to be ending with them.

About 53 percent of those who died by suicide in the military in 2011, the most recent year for which data is available, had no history of deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan,according (pdf) to the Defense Department. And nearly 85 percent of military members who took their lives had no direct combat history, meaning they may have been deployed but not seen action.

"So we're dealing with broader societal issues," Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in a June speech. "Substance abuse, financial distress and relationship problems — the risk factors for suicide — also reflect problems … that will endure beyond war."

While suicide has increased across all branches of the military over the last decade, the Army has seen the most significant spikes.

According to figures released last week, there were 303 suicides in the Army, Army National Guard and Army Reserve so far this year.  Of these, 93 deaths are still under investigation.  Last year, the Army had 283 suicides.

Causes of suicide are complex and unique to each individual, so there's no simple reason why service members are taking their lives in greater numbers now.

Please continue reading at: