Sixteen American soldiers killed themselves in October in the U.S. and on duty overseas, an unusually high monthly toll that is fueling concerns about the mental health of the nation's military personnel after more than eight years of continuous warfare.
The Army's top generals worry that surging tens of thousands more troops into Afghanistan could increase the strain felt by many military personnel after years of repeated deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.
The October suicide figures mean that at least 134 active-duty soldiers have taken their own lives so far this year, putting the Army on pace to break last year's record of 140 active-duty suicides. The number of Army suicides has risen 37% since 2006, and last year, the suicide rate surpassed that of the U.S. population for the first time.
We discussed this last May when the 2008 numbers came out. Things are getting worse. What's your opinion? Is the reason for the increasing problem of suicide among young soldiers all due to the continuing strain of two wars? How do you think the fact that we have an all-volunteer army affects this? Would it be worse if some of them were drafted?
What do you think about the disarming of military personnel on stateside bases? In our recent discussions about that, it seems the pro-gun crowd is critical of the practice. Do you think they've thought of the implications on suicide rates? Some of them have and proffer that the availability of guns has no impact on suicide.
I say the availability of guns is the single most important factor in suicide rates for the simple reason that using a gun is so much more effective than any of the other means.
What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.