Tuesday, July 3, 2012

When Suicide Eclipses Combat Deaths

Suicides among American troops are averaging nearly one a day this year. 154 active-duty soldiers have committed suicide in the first 155 days of 2012.
This reflects an 18% increase from the same time period last year and a 25% increase from 2010. Military suicides have even eclipsed combat deaths in Afghanistan during the same period.
The reasons for this increase are uncertain though the increased stress placed on troops subjected to repeated tours of duty could play a role, coupled with the stigma attached with seeking mental health treatment among members of the military.
I am very much afraid that the United States may win the combat portion of the war, while being woefully unprepared for the aftermath of war.
War does not end with the last bullet fired, or the last convey out of town.
Thousands of soldiers may find themselves unable to leave the war behind. Incidence of PTSD and suicidal veterans threaten to overwhelm the mental healthcare system that is already overburdened in many states.
If America is unequipped for the consequences of war, we need to reconsider the conduct of war.

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