View Full Version : Suicides in the Military
06-13-2000, 01:52 PM
I just read an article here (http://news.excite.com/news/ap/000613/02/news-military-suicide), that pretty much shows what i've seen when i was active. it's upsetting to me to hear that only now they feel like really making an issue of it. I lost a friend this way as well. What are your opinions as to what the causes are for these suicides. I wish i knew why my buddy killed himself. No one saw it coming. What do you think?
06-13-2000, 03:23 PM
As an ex-Army wife, I have seen some of the conditions that happen in the military that can lead to this kind of problem.
First of all, fewer Americans want to join the military. There's no money to be made with it, it's a difficult lifestyle, and you run a chance of being stationed in places you have no desire to live in. There is no longer the honor and glory attached to military service as there was when my grandfathers fought in WWII.
This, in turn, has lowered the standards for acceptance into the military. A few decades ago, any kind of criminal record, histories of violence or anger management problems, and dropping out of high school would bar someone entirely from the service. Now, recruiters are willing to work around these problems to get someone in. My ex had a juvenile record--the Air Force refused him, but the Army and the Navy were both willing to take him.
Taking that into account, many people who sign up for the military are usually men and women where college may not necessarily be their first option into developing skills. These are the people who fill in the ranks of enlisted soldiers, where most of the troubles lie, in terms of this subject. They come into the military looking to develop some kind of job skill that will help them have a career for life--exactly what the commercials for the Army show you.
The environment in the military is brutal--and it's supposed to be. They are developing soldiers. Unfortunately there are many people who come to the military looking for the skills they need to survive in the world, and not necessarily looking at the fact that they need to be soldiers first, then career-seekers second. It is overwhelming for some of them. There are those who adapt and thrive in it, and those who don't.
For the ones who don't thrive in it find themselves in the midst of alcoholism and other problems. Some of them turn to violence, and some turn the violence to themselves. Part of the whole environment is the macho attitude of "a soldier never cries." There are counselors available on base, but are very rarely used, unless by direct order by an officer, as warranted by unseemly conduct. Too often, someone with troubles are never going to talk about it, for fear of being seen as weak. It all eventually implodes.
I noted that you served--and you survived it. You know what I'm talking about.
I'm deeply sorry about your friend.
06-14-2000, 07:58 AM
A few decades ago, any kind of criminal record, histories of violence or anger management problems, and dropping out of high school would bar someone entirely from the service.
As a counselor for veterans, I would like a cite. I find the exact opposite to be true.
06-14-2000, 09:02 AM
I'm not sure I see the issue here. According to the article cited, suicide rates in the military are about 33% lower than that of the general population (assuming males in their 20's comprise most of the military suicides, a very reasonable assumption, I think). Considering the pressures of life in the military are generally much greater than those for 20-30 year-olds on the outside, I think this says something about how stable soldiers are despite the hardships they face. I can see continued effort on the part of the Pentagon to further reduce this rate, especially in light of the 5-6% rate the Air Force has acheived, although, IMO, the Air Force has always offered a much higher quality of life than the other branches. I think a zero rate would probably be impossible to achieve, but 15% does not constitute an emergency.
06-14-2000, 09:02 AM
I would question the term "counseling" used in the army. I remember when I was in basic training, a guy tried to commit suicide by overdosing on aspirin. He did survive, but the counseling the rest of us got the next day was more like a clinic on how to commit suicide correctly. We were told how to slit our wrists so paramedics couldn't stop the bleeding, which medicines would be fatal if ODed on, where to put a gun to our head so the bullet wouldn't miss, etc. There was never any mention of how to get help, just the message of "if you are going to try it, don't screw up and only hurt yourself because then you become a burden." That was the beginning of my FTA attitude that I still carry to this day.
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