Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and various congressmen have now classified the record high number of military suicides last year an “epidemic.” Experts blame the rising trend – which took 349 lives in 2012 alone – on Iraq and Afghanistan veterans suffering from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder as well as financial and relationship troubles that combine to produce a sense of hopelessness. That’s not to mention substance abuse, legal problems or other issue facing service men and women. Often, they are simply unable to cope with being a civilian after returning home from combat.
In 2005 the suicide rate in the Army was less than half of 2012’s number.
From the Associated Press:
Each year the Pentagon performs an in-depth study of the circumstances of each suicide. The most recent year for which that analysis is available is 2011, and among the findings was that those who took their own lives tended to be white men under the age of 25, in the junior enlisted ranks, with less than a college education.
The analysis of 2011’s 301 military suicides also found that the suicide rate for divorced service members was 55 percent higher than for those who were married. It determined that 60 percent of military suicides were committed with the use of firearms – and in most cases the guns were personal weapons, not military-issued.
That study also found that most service members who attempted suicide – about 65 percent – had a known history of behavior problems, whereas 45 percent of those who actually completed the act and killed themselves had such a history.
One such case was Army Spc. Christopher Nguyen, 29, who killed himself last August at an off-post residence he shared with another member of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C., according to his sister, Shawna Nguyen.
“He was practically begging for help and nothing was done,” she said in an interview.
[Via Associated Press]