Military Sees Frustrating Trend as Suicides Spike

Military Sees Frustrating Trend as Suicides SpikeBy Lolita C. Baldor – Sep 2019

Military suicides have surged to a record high among active duty troops, continuing a deadly trend that Pentagon officials say is frustrating and they are struggling to counter.

The difficulties involved in identifying service members with possible problems and finding ways to prevent suicides were underscored earlier this month when the Navy reported that three crew members who served on the USS George H.W. Bush took their own lives within a week.

The number of suicides across the military increased from 511 in 2017 to 541 in 2018.

“Our numbers are not moving in the right direction,” said Elizabeth Van Winkle, director of the Pentagon’s office of force resiliency. She said that most of the military rates are comparable to civilians, but added, “that’s hardly comforting.”

Military and defense leaders expressed dismay and a resolve to do more to increase resilience in the force, train service members how to handle stress better and encourage troops to seek help when they need it.

Van Winkle said the military is also looking at increasing efforts to train troops on the safe storage of firearms and medication.

…recognizing service members who may be struggling or at risk of taking their own lives is very difficult, and that sometimes suicide is a sudden, impulsive decision with little warning. They said it’s difficult to identify reasons for suicide because there are so many stresses that could contribute.

They also acknowledged that service members are reluctant to come forward and seek help, because they worry that it could affect promotions or security clearances

This year for the first time, the Pentagon included statistics for suicides by military spouses and dependents. Van Winkle said the most recent numbers available were for 2017, but officials are working to get better at collecting family data.

According to the report, there were 186 families that had suicides — 123 were spouses and 63 were dependents between the ages of 12 and 23.

6 thoughts on “Military Sees Frustrating Trend as Suicides Spike

  1. canarensis

    I wonder what the suicide rate was in Vietnam…another forever war with no resolution & no end. At least the public was aware that there was a war in Vietnam…Afghanistan seems to have just been forgotten.

    The military & VA screws over its service members so badly, in so many ways, it’s absolutely criminal, beyond shameful.

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    1. Zyp Czyk Post author

      Our soldiers are putting their very lives on the line for their country, the greatest sacrifice a human can make. Then they come back with chronic pain from the battle wounds they incurred on behalf of all American citizens, including those doctors that now deny them relief.

      For that reason alone, young men shouldn’t volunteer to join the service these days: if you get wounded in battle and suffer ongoing pain thereafter, you will be allowed no relief. You will be forced to suffer as humans did centuries ago before pain medications were created.

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      1. canarensis

        Very true. It strikes me as hideously ironic that they first discovered that not treating or undertreating acute pain makes it much more likely to become chronic pain in…the first Iraq war. Now they want to not only risk those peoples’ lives, but sentence them to hideous physical as well as mental torture for the rest of their lives. How these zealots are not diagnosed as sadists is completely beyond me.
        I saw a doc this morning (bad sore throat) & we ended up talking about pain treatment (or lack thereof). She didn’t believe me when I said a lot of people are being forced to undergo surgery or dire injury without any pain relief beyond otc tylenol or advil. I have 4 neighbors who’ve undergone surgery in the last 6 months & got nothing but useless otc crap ( I guess she thought I was lying about that, or they were). Apparently she still believes that “real” pain (as opposed to minor or faked pain, I guess) should still be treated with real pain meds, at least.

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        1. Zyp Czyk Post author

          It seems the situation is far better here in Silicon Valley because they still prescribed me extra pain meds on top of the regular after I had my bike crash in 2015. And my doc says it’s not a problem to keep my opioid prescription going – it was CVS that forced the 90MME limit, not my doc. My mother-in-law is also getting opioid pain meds from her for her pain from repeated failed neck surgeries.

          I am so lucky to be in this area where the hysteria hasn’t seemed to affect medical practice. I’ll bet it’s because so many super highly paid tech geniuses also have pain that requires opioids and we wouldn’t want to slow them down or force them to stop working due to their pain. There’s always a business motive involved.

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  2. Kathy C

    Back in 2011 they instituted a “Positive Psychology” intervention, with no evidence that it worked. It is just one more example of the denial, deception and propaganda, they use to deceive soldiers and the general public. Our society is much too broken to even objectively evaluate what is going on here. The military tried to frame this as a “resilience problem” in order to point blame at the soldiers. Having spoken to some of the VA psychiatrists, and observed how they treated their patients, it is easy to see why there is a problem.

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Zyp Czyk Post author

      Yes, I heard this from doctors as well. They are starting to be forced into programs to “increase their resilience“ to tolerate all the intrusion and control of their work by financial concerns as laid out by some CEO for up in the clouds of denial.

      It’s not that people are lacking and resilience, it’s that people are being hounded and pressured to the limits of their abilities by economic forces. We told your people, and then complain that they just seem to lack resilience to the torture being handed down by all the higher level financial people concerned only about their financial gains. Not their company’s gains, but their own personal finances is all they are concerned about.

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