Army Suicide Rate At a New High

From the Associated Press:

Stressed by war and long overseas tours, U.S. soldiers killed themselves last year at the highest rate on record, the toll rising for a fourth straight year and even surpassing the suicide rate among comparable civilians. Army leaders said they were doing everything they could think of to curb the deaths and appealed for more mental health professionals to join and help out.

At least 128 soldiers committed suicide in 2008, the Army said Thursday. And the final count is likely to be even higher because 15 more suspicious deaths are still being investigated.

“Why do the numbers keep going up? We cannot tell you,” said Army Secretary Pete Geren. “We can tell you that across the Army we’re committed to doing everything we can to address the problem.”

It’s all about pressure and the military approach, said Kim Ruocco, 45, whose Marine husband was an officer and Cobra helicopter pilot who hanged himself in a California hotel room in 2005. That was one month before he was to return to Iraq a second time.

She said her husband, John, had completed 75 missions in Iraq and was struggling with anxiety and depression but felt he’d be letting others down if he sought help and couldn’t return.


One Response to “Army Suicide Rate At a New High”

  1. dave says:

    Keep in mind soldiers are people. People with the right support, leadership, and mission focus can take and tolerate just about anything. It is obvious fundamental leadership skills are critically short where it is needed most – in the warzone. There is very much a culture of take care of yourself and a focus on leader self-service. Never thought I would see command structures in warzones that believed the soldier exists for them and not the other way around. The soldier in the field is the last to get what he needs – it is stunning to learn how the units placed in command roles are viciously parochial whether the subject is vehicles and equipment or awards. Leadership sets the tone of any unit and mission. If there is a problem…it is the leadership that should be looked at hardest – and I mean the leadership with the most impact-in country and in direct control of troops.

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