The Epidemic of Military Suicide

Getting flak

Below see an article published in the Psychiatric Times on military suicide.  The alarming rate of military suicide is telling: our system is sick and the human reaction often is to either respond externally or internally.  For military personnel who have often been trained to accept the existing social paradigm of our country, the pain and frustration turns inward to self blame and self destruction.

The offerings of the writer of this article as solutions are telling as well; they even admit that they are common sense ‘low hanging fruit’.  Also, its not new news. Unlike decades or a century ago, the experiences of individual soldiers sent into combat or even as support troops (medical personnel, those on isolated bases) when the trauma inflicted on soldiers was often a private nightmare, today mass information resources such as the internet has allowed the truth to meet the people.   The picture seen does not comport well with the old-time propaganda films of the 40’s or even just a decade ago with heroic soldiers fighting a clear enemy that we never really see on the screen, where “collateral damage” doesn’t exist and mourning innocent victims and mourning soldier’s families were not shown.

Soldiers are the canary in the coal-mine.  Its worth repeating; our system is sick.  Communities and families are wounded on all sides and for what?  Most wars in this country have been waged for the benefit of a few and suffered by the many.  Recruiters target low income demographics and the government feeds billions into enticements to procure a volunteer military that makes blame easy when the shit hits the fan — you volunteered for it, you could have stayed home.

The majority (I’d say nearly all) of the wars that our citizens have either been drafted or volunteered for have been borne out of the imperialist ambitions of the plutocracy; the global corporate engines that drive the capitalist system and their often well paid public cheerleaders in government.  Contracts for munitions and military infrastructure are argued as an easy economic driver, yet no where is the recognition among the military growth drumbeats, the human toll that military infrastructure enacts worldwide and here at home.  Like the old adage, “build it and they will come”, military growth stimulates the itching desire to use it and so begins the constant thirst for another conflict to swell the pockets of the few.

Doping and long duty tours all stem from the theme of constant war that has developed, turning this country into a war-state that dominates the world with armed power and determines that its citizens are expendable, whether on the job floor or the killing floor.  The American people have been conned into believing that some mysterious balance comes out of the human blood that flows like rivers from our bullets, bombs and shells.  What a perverted world view.

All the rest that the Psychiatric Times recommends, such as decent healthcare, jobs programs involve a social safety net that we believe should be available for all citizens.  That someone should put themselves in service; put themselves in front of a bullet for the benefit of the plutocracy/corporatocracy in order to be treated as human is barbaric and needs to stop.

Finally, the justifications for continuing war and terrorizing the world have no basis in truth.  Terrorism has been shown repeatedly to be responses to imperialist pressure and killing by the United States or its allies.  Conflicts in the middle east, created both by the thirst for oil and also by the Zionist fantasies of religious fanatics to preserve the imposed state of Israel fans the flames.

Progressive movement in this country involves ending the occupation of the middle east while developing independent, renewable energy sources and manufacturing here in the states around that.  Progressive movement in this country relies on the fundamental fact that humans are not machines, there is nothing natural about killing or maiming another human being for no reason but some vague, senseless propaganda based on lies, tribalism and racism.

Send the troops home, yes.  End the conflicts by removing the United States from the conflicts, concentrate on development of domestically sustainable energy production and related manufacture, reduce dependency on Chinese imports, take leadership on reducing consumption, increasing public transportation and making the health, education and general welfare of the people not only the most important goal in this country but the only one that matters.

Soldiers struggle with periods of endless boredom punctuated with extreme, unexpected violence. Here soldiers bear a dust storm the best they can.

From the Psychiatric Times:

With understandable urgency, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has made suicide one of his top priorities, instructing commanders at all levels to feel acutely accountable for it. The numbers are startling. On average 1 active duty soldier is killing himself each day–twice the number of combat deaths and twice the civilian rate.

Suicides have jumped dramatically since 2005 and increased by 18% in just the last year. The DOD and VA are groping for explanations and plans of action–clearly, just commanding the commanders to prevent suicide can’t possibly do very much. And, sadly, psychiatry has no ready or certain answers, no sure way to predict or prevent suicide. Research in this area has huge methodological problems and is unlikely to bear any low hanging fruit. So, we may have to rely on obvious, common sense suggestions:

Read more: Psychiatric Times

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