Thursday, May 28, 2009

Military Suicide Rate Going Up

A few months ago we discussed the record year for Army suicides in 2008. Now it seems it's getting worse. CNN reports.

A major United States military post is shutting down for three days following a rash of suicides, the post announced.

Fort Campbell, home of the Army's 101st Airborne Division, is holding a three-day "suicide stand-down training event" starting Wednesday -- the second one it has held this year, a post spokeswoman told CNN.

At least 11 deaths of Fort Campbell soldiers this year are confirmed or suspected suicides, spokeswoman Kelly Tyler said. That's out of 64 confirmed or suspected suicides in the entire Army, according to official statistics. At that rate, the Army is on pace for a record number of suicides this year.

A big focus of the three-day event will be to convince the young soldiers that asking for help is not inconsistent with the other traditional values that have been drummed into them, things like strength and honor. It is a sign of strength, the general will tell them, when they reach out for help.

Do you think that approach will work? Is it possible for young men, trained the way they are for war in Iraq and Afghanistan, to incorporate these mental health principles into their lifestyle? I don't think so.

What's your opinion? It brings up the old questions of personal responsibility and individual freedom. Do you think those 11 soldiers who committed suicide on Fort Campbell this year had sound enough minds to make that decision? Did they enjoy personal freedom of choice the way everyone else does? I don't think so.

I think those poor guys were victims of a system that swallowed them up and crushed the life out of them. They probably suffered from terrible depression or fear or isolation, or perhaps all three, all the while trying to fake it and fit in. It's tragic and sad and something should be done about it. My heart goes out to their families and loved ones.

What's your opinion? What can be done about this terrible ongoing tragedy?

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