More suicides than combat deaths among US troops
There are more suicides than combat deaths in U.S. troops...in 155 days, 154 suicides were reported. The number of U.S. soldiers who died by suicide since the beginning of this year already exceeds the number of troops killed in combat in the Afghanistan war in 2012, official figures provided by the Department of Defense United States confirm.
The number of U.S. soldiers who died by suicide since the beginning of this year already exceeds the number of troops killed in combat in the Afghanistan war in 2012, official figures provided by the Department of Defense United States confirm.
In the first 155 days of the year, there were 154 reported suicides of American soldiers on active duty, which means that on average, between January and June 2012 the U.S. Army lost one person per day.
In the same period, the number of troops killed in Afghanistan was lower: 50%, according to the Pentagon, 139, according to the website icasualties.org, which includes accounts of combat deaths.
Pentagon data shows an extraordinary rise in the suicide rate for troops, which is now at an historical level - compared to the numbers from the same period in 2011. The suicide rate shot up 18% and 25% compared with 2010. Never in the last decade of the United States being involved in two wars (Iraq and Afghanistan), has the rate of suicides among soldiers been so high.
The Department of Defense has expressed extreme concern at the trend of the rising numbers of suicides which have occurred since 2006, reaching a peak in 2009 and again now. Before a count was made for the first half of the year, even the Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, had alerted leaders to the issue, writing an internal memo that "military suicide is one of the most complex and urgent issues needing attention and solutions."
Army combat stigma
"We must continue to work towards eliminating the stigma of those suffering from post-traumatic stress or other mental health problems so that these individuals will seek expert help," the document said.
Panetta wrote that commanders have an additional responsibility and "cannot tolerate any action that leads to a diminishing, humiliation or ostracism of anyone, especially those who need treatment."
In an effort to manage the individual and social problems caused by the war effort of the last decade - in addition to the increase in suicides, there is also a rise in cases of drug addiction, sexual and domestic violence and other crimes committed by soldiers. The U.S. Army launched mental health programs for the prevention of abuse of alcohol and drugs, as well as legal and financial advice to soldiers and their families.
As commented by Paul Rieckhoff, the executive director of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the number of suicides among active duty military is "just the visible tip of the iceberg." A inquiry conducted among the 160,000 members of his organization revealed that 37% had personal knowledge of someone who had ended their own life.
The causes for the problem identified in studies by the Pentagon with his staff show that after successive years of deployments to the theater of war, the likelihood that soldiers will develop a framework for post-traumatic stress increases. Experts say the U.S. economic situation may also be contributing to the increase of anguish and despair among American troops and their families.
Translated from the Portuguese version by: