- There were 197 Army suicides in 2008, according to the Army’s numbers. The total includes active- and non-active-duty soldiers.
- Last year, the number was 245.
- This year, through May, it’s already 163.
The Army has instituted many programs to counsel and train soldiers with a goal of suicide prevention. Several of them have failed. Often, as soldiers transitioned from one assignment to another, the new station was unaware of past mental health issues.
Source: U.S. military branches (2001-09) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (latest figures through 2006)
Credit: Adrienne Wollman
The rates per 100,000 people of suicide among active-duty personnel in the Army, Marines, Navy and Air Force. The statistics show an increase in suicide rates since 2001, compared with the relatively steady rate of suicide among the U.S. civilian population.
So is it all related to combat? who is at risk?
- Soldiers in transition, moving from a combat zone back home,
- Those with alcohol abuse problems.
- Many cases appear to involve both alcohol and overdose of medication.
- The cases speak to the Army’s inability to deal with mental health issues.
Col. Chris Philbrick, director of the Army’s suicide prevention task force, recognizes that the Army took too long to recognize that it had a crisis on its hands. They are changing now, including:
- A five-year, $60 million study with the National Institute of Mental Health.
- Online resiliency programs designed to test emotional, mental and social fitness.
- The Army says its screening methods now are as strict as they could ever be.