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Friday, August 17, 2007

American Soldiers - Suicides

American soldiers committed suicide last year at the highest rate in 26 years, and more than a quarter did so while fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a military report.

Irony :: Good news for Al Qaeda, they can get suicide bombers in America very easily.. :( [we heard about suicide bombers all this while, but here soldiers are committing suicides.. Oh Great America !! What the hell that you are giving to your soldiers which makes them to think its better to die than to live?? Hope my dear Butcher will respond soon...]

full story - courtesy: The Independent.

Suicide rate in US Army at highest in 26 years

By Leonard Doyle in Washington
Published: 17 August 2007

American soldiers committed suicide last year at the highest rate in 26 years, and more than a quarter did so while fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a military report.

The suicides are occurring at a time when many soldiers are reporting symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, including repeated flashbacks of combat experiences and other severe reactions.

But, with President George Bush demanding results and insurgents striking with greater success, an overstretched US Army has been extending the combat tours of soldiers in Iraq. It is also sending units back into action on a far more regular basis than was the case in the past.

The report found that there were 99 confirmed suicides among active-duty soldiers during 2006, up from 88 the previous year and the highest since 102 suicides in 1991.

The suicides included 28 soldiers deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. About twice as many women serving in the wars committed suicide as those not sent to war, the report said.

The Army said "occupational/operational issues" as well as failed relationships, and legal and financial issues had led to the suicides. Not surprisingly, it did not speculate about the falling morale of US combat troops in the face of ongoing military failure in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Pentagon said there was "limited evidence" that repeated deployments were putting more of its soldiers at risk from suicide. Stretched thinly by nearly six years of fighting two wars, the Pentagon has extended normal tours of duty this year to 15 months from 12 and has sent some troops back to the wars several times.

The Army recorded 17.3 suicides per 100,000 soldiers in 2006, including two deaths still pending confirmation, up from 12.8 suicides per 100,000 soldiers the year before.

Last year, 30 of the 99 confirmed suicides occurred in war zones and, so far this year, 44 soldiers have committed suicide, including 17 in either Iraq or Afghanistan.

The number of suicides in 2006 marked the highest level since 1991, the time of the Gulf War, when the Army recorded 102 soldier suicides.

More than 1.5 million US troops have taken part in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. And the Army, the largest branch of the American military, frequently complains of being overstretched by multiple and extended deployments for its combat troops.

The suicide figures follow a string of studies showing an increase in mental-health problems among soldiers and other American troops. According to those studies, including an assessment by the Pentagon, the military has not provided adequate mental-health resources to its service members.

About 35 per cent of soldiers are seeking some kind of mental-health treatment a year after returning home and the Army routinely sends medical teams to the battlefront in Iraq to survey troops, their morale and related issues.

The Army, which has been heavily criticised for the poor facilities it provides returning soldiers, says it has revised training programs and bolstered suicide prevention. It has added some 25 per cent more psychiatrists and other mental-health professionals to its staff. It is also trying to teach all soldiers how to recognise mental-health problems in themselves and their comrades - and encourage them to seek help.

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