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November 15, 2007

"Suicide Epidemic" Among US Vets 9/11, "War On Terror"  Iraq  War and Peace

A CBS news investigation has found that US veterans are committing suicide at an alarming rate, led by young veterans of the US "war on terror." Herald Sun:

The US military is experiencing a "suicide epidemic" with veterans killing themselves at the rate of 120 a week, according to an investigation by US television network CBS.

At least 6256 US veterans committed suicide in 2005 - an average of 17 a day - the network reported, with veterans overall more than twice as likely to take their own lives as the rest of the general population.

While the suicide rate among the general population was 8.9 per 100,000, the level among veterans was between 18.7 and 20.8 per 100,000.

That figure rose to 22.9 to 31.9 suicides per 100,000 among veterans aged 20 to 24 - almost four times the non-veteran average for the age group.

"Those numbers clearly show an epidemic of mental health problems," CBS quoted veterans' rights advocate Paul Sullivan as saying.

CBS quoted the father of a 23-year-old soldier who shot himself in 2005 as saying the military did not want the true scale of the problem to be known.

"Nobody wants to tally it up in the form of a government total," Mike Bowman said.

"They don't want the true numbers of casualties to really be known." [...]

"Not everyone comes home from the war wounded, but the bottom line is nobody comes home unchanged," Paul Rieckhoff, a former Marine and founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans for America said on CBS.

It's not just the horror and stress of combat. It's hard getting most people to kill, so recruits have to be subjected to intense conditioning. The military's gotten very good at this. I read somewhere that during the Second World War, only 25% of US soldiers actually fired their weapons in battle; in Korea, it was up to 50%; in Vietnam, 95%. But people aren't machines. You change their programming, and it's hard to change it back. Too little thought is given to the large-scale consequences of taking a significant fraction of young people, conditioning them in this way, and then returning them to the general population with their whole lives lying before them. It's hard on the veterans, obviously, but it also warps the psychological climate and culture of American society as a whole, and not in a good way. Yet another uncounted cost of war.

Posted by Jonathan at November 15, 2007 10:37 AM  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb


Why did you link to an Australian newspaper and not CBS directly?

Posted by: Derek at November 15, 2007 11:16 AM