Last month everyone that serves in the US Army knows about the robust suicide prevention training we had to go through due to the large increase in Army suicides in January. Well the effect that training had was that suicides have dropped but the pace this year is still enough to pass the total Army suicides in 2009 :
The Army is investigating 13 potential suicides for the month of March, the Army announced Friday.
That compares with eight confirmed suicides and 12 deaths under investigation for February, an Army news release said.
The Army is more concerned about suicides now than it was this time last year, said Army spokesman Lt. Col. George Wright.
So far in 2009, there have been 22 confirmed suicides and another 34 deaths are being investigated as possible suicides, Wright said.
From 2007 to 2008, the number of Army suicides rose from 115 to 143, prompting the Army to require soldiers to go through extra suicide prevention training.
If the 34 deaths under investigation are confirmed as suicides, that means the suicides for 2009 could surpass last year’s total if the trend does not slow down. [Stripes Central]
The 24 suicides in January actually exceeded the US combat deaths in both Iraq and Afghanistan for that month. For those that don’t know, in the Army we do suicide awareness training multiple times every year. It is a mandatory requirement. Howe, the mandatory training last month was a half day training course with a movie where the people participating in the training could choose different courses of actions for the actors to take during the scenario and see what happens. I thought it was pretty good.
Some of the information put out was pretty good as well. The majority of these suicides are not from guys being burned out from deployments. It is from young soldiers often on a first deployment or with no deployments that are committing suicide. According to the training I went to many of these young soldiers are getting married at younger ages and are experiencing marital and financial problems at an age many young people are not equipped to handle such stress. You combine this with people committing suicide due to combat related stress and other reasons and that is how you get your statistical increase.
Something else that is interesting is that the Army suicide rate of 20.2 suicides per 100,000 people is reported to be higher then the civilian average of 19.5. This is misleading because of the density of males in the military compared to the civilian population which actually has nearly an even split between males and females. Males are statistically more likely to commit suicide then females are, and then you add in the Army’s easy access to guns and that inflates the Army statistic when compared to the civilian population. So more then likely if the civilian average was weighted to match the male to female ratio in the Army the civilian suicide rate would be higher.
So Army suicides is definitely a problem, but not one that can be solved by just decreasing deployments, like many things it takes leader involvement in what is going on in the lives of soldiers and encouraging them to seek help if needed. The Army has recognized this and this is what is being emphasized and so far there has been a short term drop in suicides and lets hope this continues.