For Second Straight Year, Military Suicides Outnumber Combat Deaths

AfghanistanThe U.S. military continues to experience a disturbingly high suicide rate, arguably the deadliest hazard that troops now face. Via Congress.org:

For the second year in a row, the U.S. military has lost more troops to suicide than it has to combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The reasons are complicated and the accounting uncertain — for instance, should returning soldiers who take their own lives after being mustered out be included? But the suicide rate is a further indication of the stress that military personnel live under after nearly a decade of war.

Overall, the services reported 434 suicides by personnel on active duty, significantly more than the 381 suicides by active-duty personnel reported in 2009. The 2010 total is below the 462 deaths in combat, excluding accidents and illness. In 2009, active-duty suicides exceeded deaths in battle.

Last week’s figures, though, understate the problem of military suicides because the services do not report the statistics uniformly. Several do so only reluctantly.

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  • Skylinevolution

    That’s messed up. I don’t believe it ever would have crossed my mind to think that suicide rates are higher than KIA rates. Ironically, after giving it some thought, it makes a hell of a lot of sense.

  • Skylinevolution

    That’s messed up. I don’t believe it ever would have crossed my mind to think that suicide rates are higher than KIA rates. Ironically, after giving it some thought, it makes a hell of a lot of sense.

  • DeepCough

    War never ends until the pile of bodies gets too big (and kinda fucked up that very pile is mostly suicides from our side).

  • DeepCough

    War never ends until the pile of bodies gets too big (and kinda fucked up that very pile is mostly suicides from our side).

  • Robobagons

    Yeah, it is a surprise to people, but when I was in the military, we’ed hear about a suicide quiet often, and suicide dose not discriminate either…I’ve seen people from the lowest ranks, to Chaplains in the church commit suicide. People don’t understand that the pressure that comes with being in the military is over whelming…There are enormous amounts of things that are constantly on your shoulders, and to top things off, You can’t escape…You are stuck with it, because well…its not a normal job lol, you can’t just move on to something else. My main issue was that specific thing almost entirely. The fact that I was no longer happy what so ever being there, but there was no way to fix it, no light at the end of the tunnel. Its rough, and takes a serious type of mind set to go through that. I can try and explain it all I want to you all, but you’ll never understand until your there experiencing it. You have to realize that for them to fight for your freedoms, they have to give up theirs, almost everything (Really depends on where you stand comfortably Freedom wise). For me, I can’t live like that, that’s not who I am, But like I said, some people work better with that system.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, it is a surprise to people, but when I was in the military, we’ed hear about a suicide quiet often, and suicide dose not discriminate either…I’ve seen people from the lowest ranks, to Chaplains in the church commit suicide. People don’t understand that the pressure that comes with being in the military is over whelming…There are enormous amounts of things that are constantly on your shoulders, and to top things off, You can’t escape…You are stuck with it, because well…its not a normal job lol, you can’t just move on to something else. My main issue was that specific thing almost entirely. The fact that I was no longer happy what so ever being there, but there was no way to fix it, no light at the end of the tunnel. Its rough, and takes a serious type of mind set to go through that. I can try and explain it all I want to you all, but you’ll never understand until your there experiencing it. You have to realize that for them to fight for your freedoms, they have to give up theirs, almost everything (Really depends on where you stand comfortably Freedom wise). For me, I can’t live like that, that’s not who I am, But like I said, some people work better with that system.

  • Frolicsomegaiety

    Robobagons… only in defensive war could the military possibly claim to be fighting for “our freedoms.” The middle-east occupation is an aggressive, neo-imperial action for the collection of foreign resources. 9/11 was a Pearl Harbor where, instead of vanquishing a very obvious enemy force and building up foreign pro-American economies, America has taken advantage of a tragedy to engage in deceptive, quiet merchantilism. Nothing more. Nothing less. Thanks, maybe, for overthrowing one of the many American backed dictators that happened to go rouge, collecting foreign resources that may never amount to this action’s total expenditure, ensuring that innocent American life has been paid for tenfold by the innocent life of another people, and for attempting to secure areas out of American control, but- and I truly am sorry about this- not for our freedoms. Unsustainable economic privilege and a political inability to actually nation-build a non-European or Asian country- at the cost of much human life, suffering and basic principal (unapologetic torture?) maybe- but I don’t consider that to amount to my, or your freedom. Sorry you had to endure it over there.

    • Larchoye

      Consequently- I’d like to point out our military’s COMPLETE DISREGARD FOR DEFENSE on 9/11/2001…

      Though (for reasons unbeknown) Dick Cheney ordered our fighter jets to “STAND DOWN”. For more reasons unbeknown- our top generals TOOK THAT ORDER, then RELAYED IT TO OUR FIGHTER JET’S who also took that order…

      THE MILITARY DOES NOT TAKE ORDERS FROM THE VICE PRESIDENT, DOES THE MILITARY QUESTION WHETHER THEY SHOULD MITIGATE AN ATTACK.

  • Frolicsomegaiety

    Robobagons… only in defensive war could the military possibly claim to be fighting for “our freedoms.” The middle-east occupation is an aggressive, neo-imperial action for the collection of foreign resources. 9/11 was a Pearl Harbor where, instead of vanquishing a very obvious enemy force and building up foreign pro-American economies, America has taken advantage of a tragedy to engage in deceptive, quiet merchantilism. Nothing more. Nothing less. Thanks, maybe, for overthrowing one of the many American backed dictators that happened to go rouge, collecting foreign resources that may never amount to this action’s total expenditure, ensuring that innocent American life has been paid for tenfold by the innocent life of another people, and for attempting to secure areas out of American control, but- and I truly am sorry about this- not for our freedoms. Unsustainable economic privilege and a political inability to actually nation-build a non-European or Asian country- at the cost of much human life, suffering and basic principal (unapologetic torture?) maybe- but I don’t consider that to amount to my, or your freedom. Sorry you had to endure it over there.

  • Bud Bundy

    I recall a junior officer in another unit who lived near us on our FOB (as often as we were there, anyway) killing himself days before he was slated to return to the States with his unit as they had finished their tour. The best guess anyone had was that he couldn’t handle the stress of going home.

    I was a junior enlisted man in an Infantry unit, and Infantry myself. When we were slated to redeploy back home ourselves, the pervading sentiment was confused. Each man wanted to go home or stay in differing amounts, but we were all torn. I often thought about that officer during this time, and while I would have rather stayed, despite being stop-lossed and frankly itching for my Honorable Discharge (Service Completed). But To go to such a length? Ridiculous.

    “There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter.”
    Ernest Hemingway

  • Bud Bundy

    I recall a junior officer in another unit who lived near us on our FOB (as often as we were there, anyway) killing himself days before he was slated to return to the States with his unit as they had finished their tour. The best guess anyone had was that he couldn’t handle the stress of going home.

    I was a junior enlisted man in an Infantry unit, and Infantry myself. When we were slated to redeploy back home ourselves, the pervading sentiment was confused. Each man wanted to go home or stay in differing amounts, but we were all torn. I often thought about that officer during this time, and while I would have rather stayed, despite being stop-lossed and frankly itching for my Honorable Discharge (Service Completed). But To go to such a length? Ridiculous.

    “There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter.”
    Ernest Hemingway

  • Guest

    Missing from article:

    Soldiers returning from active duty who discover that their wives have cheated and/or filed for divorce.

    But we can’t talk about that, because we can’t criticize women in America…

  • Andrew

    Logical fallacies:
    Begging the Question
    Red Herring / Straw man/ Poisoning the Well / Hasty Generalization
    Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc
    Making Shit Up

  • nh

    choosing your wife wisely is the most important decision you’ll ever make.

  • Anonymous

    The military will never solve the problem simply because the problem stems from the military itself. The military of today is a strange beast, in some ways brutal and overtly masculine while at the same time extremely regulatory and bureaucratic. The opposition of these two forces creates a lot of cognitive dissonance throughout the ranks. Not to mention the rank structure to begin with, a relic. So not only is it the crushing weight of two imperialistic wars but it is the crazy internal society that exists as the military itself. Its not only time we ended these wars but in the prevention of future wars we must dramatically reform and restructure the military. My recommendation? Reduce the active force over time to 25% of current size leaving only training and administrative units while the rest will be put into reserve or mothballed status.

  • MoralDrift

    The military will never solve the problem simply because the problem stems from the military itself. The military of today is a strange beast, in some ways brutal and overtly masculine while at the same time extremely regulatory and bureaucratic. The opposition of these two forces creates a lot of cognitive dissonance throughout the ranks. Not to mention the rank structure to begin with, a relic. So not only is it the crushing weight of two imperialistic wars but it is the crazy internal society that exists as the military itself. Its not only time we ended these wars but in the prevention of future wars we must dramatically reform and restructure the military. My recommendation? Reduce the active force over time to 25% of current size leaving only training and administrative units while the rest will be put into reserve or mothballed status.

  • Little_green_chicken

    Is it possible that military personnel that are forced to stay for another tour, when they want to leave, are taking their own lives to escape? I think it’s called ‘stop-loss’? Who could blame any American for not wanting to fight for unclear cause, for an undetermined amount of time? The US gov needs to get their heads out of the sand and see the disaster that will inevitably follow from trying to play World Police….Obama needs to watch Team America….

  • Little_green_chicken

    Is it possible that military personnel that are forced to stay for another tour, when they want to leave, are taking their own lives to escape? I think it’s called ‘stop-loss’? Who could blame any American for not wanting to fight for unclear cause, for an undetermined amount of time? The US gov needs to get their heads out of the sand and see the disaster that will inevitably follow from trying to play World Police….Obama needs to watch Team America….

  • Larchoye

    Consequently- I’d like to point out our military’s COMPLETE DISREGARD FOR DEFENSE on 9/11/2001…

    Though (for reasons unbeknown) Dick Cheney ordered our fighter jets to “STAND DOWN”. For more reasons unbeknown- our top generals TOOK THAT ORDER, then RELAYED IT TO OUR FIGHTER JET’S who also took that order…

    THE MILITARY DOES NOT TAKE ORDERS FROM THE VICE PRESIDENT, DOES THE MILITARY QUESTION WHETHER THEY SHOULD MITIGATE AN ATTACK.

  • Borlei

    I am in Afghanistan right now… and I deffinatly believe it!

  • Borlei

    I am in Afghanistan right now… and I deffinatly believe it!

  • Andrew

    Logical fallacies:
    Begging the Question
    Red Herring / Straw man/ Poisoning the Well / Hasty Generalization
    Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc
    Making Shit Up

  • nh

    choosing your wife wisely is the most important decision you’ll ever make.

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