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US military suicide rate nearly twice national average

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A Sign of Empire Pathology

More US military personnel have taken their OWN lives than have died in action

By Finian Cunningham

Global Research, January 12, 2010

Here is a shocking statistic that you won’t hear in most western news media: over the past nine years, more US military personnel have taken their own lives than have died in action in either the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. These are official figures from the US Department of Defence, yet somehow they have not been deemed newsworthy to report. Last year alone, more than 330 serving members of the US armed forces committed suicide – more than the 320 killed in Afghanistan and the 150 who fell in Iraq (see wsws.org).

Since 2001, when Washington launched its so-called war on terror, there has been a dramatic year-on-year increase in US military suicides, particularly in the army, which has borne the brunt of fighting abroad. Last year saw the highest total number since such records began in 1980. Prior to 2001, the suicide rate in the US military was lower than that for the general US population; now, it is nearly double the national average.

A growing number of these victims have been deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan. What these figures should tell us is that there is something fundamentally deranged about Washington’s “war on terror” – which is probably why western news media prefer to ignore the issue. How damning is it about such military campaigns that the number of US soldiers who take their own lives outnumber those killed by enemy combatants.

What is even more disturbing is that the official figures only count victims of suicide among serving personnel. Not included are the many more veterans – officially classed a civilians – who take their own lives.

Most likely, these deaths are reported in some small-town newspaper in “a brief” news item with no context or background as to what drove these individuals to take their own lives. It is estimated that the suicide rate among veterans demobbed from fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq is as high as four times the national average. The US Department of Veteran Affairs calculates that over 6,000 former service personnel commit suicide every year.

Many of these men have come home to a country they have fought for only to find no jobs, their homes repossessed by banks that have enjoyed trillion-dollar bailouts and broken relationships.

Meanwhile, President Obama – the erstwhile peace candidate – has taken on the role of Commander in Chief with gusto, telling his countrymen and women that they are fighting a “just war” to “defend American lives”. Only a year ago, he was campaigning for the presidency on a ticket to end such wars. Now, more than his predecessor, George W Bush, Obama is committing to wars without end. How soul-destroying is that for a grunt holed up in a bunker, with his young family back home probably telling him that they have just signed up for food stamps? In their guts, these US soldiers must know – as many other ordinary people around the world do – that these wars are nothing but a desperate, pathological bid by a dying power to salvage its crumbling empire – an empire that enriches a tiny elite and impoverishes the majority. Is it any wonder that many of them simply lose the will to live?


Written by laudyms

April 14, 2010 at 8:46 am

Posted in Uncategorized

9 Responses

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  1. I served in the Army during peace time but in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. All of the NCO cadres were combat vets. All of these men who I loved and admired were without exception irreparably damaged by their experience in that hell of our own making; whether by depression, rage, chronic marital strife, PTSD (including nightmares that could only be held at bay by sleeping with their hands on a loaded pistol) and flashbacks in which they would zone out and start trying to call in air cover support. That there were massive amounts of alcohol and drug abuse should go without saying. As a counselor working with the homeless for twenty years I have seen countless men who; although their hearts yet beat and their lungs still breathe effectively lost their lives in that monstrous imperial crime. Now I see it happening all over again. Will this nation of vicious idiots ever learn?
    Danielle E. (Beth) Lyles MS

    Danielle E. (Beth) Lyles M.S.

    April 14, 2010 at 2:39 pm

  2. I just finished reading “Hypothetical violence: still not as scary as actual violence” about the violence of empire…and how tamely most accept it. So your comment resonates with me.

    Being a military brat and a college student during the Vietnam war, I knew some who didn’t come back and plenty who were damaged. My initial reaction during Bush’s run-up to Iraq was overwhelming grief because thousands will repeat the cycle. Throwing away our kids on hopeless resource wars is pathologically dumb. And I’d like to see someone pay for it.


    April 14, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    • I just wanted you to known that that was an amazing view of the victims of suicide in the military. I am doing a project for college on the rising rate of suicide of those who have fought or who are fighting for our country. We are able to choose a topic that has to do with the government or the environment. After my best friend killed himself a year and a half ago i started asking the question, why isn’t anyone doing anything about this? Why is the government acting like this is not an issue? Without these brave men and women the United State would be nothing. They fight for the saftey and security of all of us. Everyone from the President to the newborn babies. Why are we as a nation turning our heads when this issue is slapping all of us in the face? I have three young sons and when they are of age to fight for this country i would love to say that i would stand behind them as a proud mom, however, if someone doesn’t help these men and women i will probaly do everything i can to discourage them from joining the military.


      October 12, 2010 at 4:24 am

      • Here are two newer articles too:

        Military suicide rates surge:

        For John Helfert, the problems started with the mortar shells screaming into the Abu Ghraib prison compound, the explosions sending furious shock waves.


        Suicidal soldiers are humiliated by superiors with fatal results, military medical experts say:

        The bullying involves “humiliating-type behavior in ranks, formations, where soldiers were singled out and identified as someone who is suicidal, publicly ridiculed, and things along that nature,” said Army Maj. Gen. Philip Volpe.


        October 12, 2010 at 9:37 am

  3. The only people you’ll ever see pay for our imperial illusions are the people who give their lives in these useless wars.

    Obama became a war criminal with less than two weeks in office; he won’t authorize investigations and prosecutions for his criminal predecessors because to do so would put his own ass in legal peril.

    I was in Vietnam and watching the revisionism that has been applied to the hagiography of that war is sickening. We’ll never learn anything about the futility of war until we stop aggrandizing warriors whether that’s through video games or popular culture. Tom Hanks and Stephen Spielberg, I’m looking at you.

    matt carmody

    April 15, 2010 at 6:26 am

  4. Thank you Matt for your service and for your comment. I read one study that found that American children see an average 20,000 homicides on television and in films before age 18 and this was done before the advent of first person shooter video games. They desentsitize our children to cruelty and violence because they provide the visual exitement with out the smells, sounds, and the sights of people blown into meat chunks or else taking a cruel and insufferable long time dying. It sanitizes each kill and leaves no blood.

    What is worse the profiteers in the MIC collude with our military high command in policies and practices that absolutely cannot, not, wind up involving our troops (whose average age is 19.5 years old)in a constant string of atrocities against civilians. This is so obvious to me that I cannot hold any reasonable position other than to say that it is done deliberately to provoke the violent response of the populace in order to provide an excuse to sell more bomb, rockets, missiles, etc. and to provide the generals with CIBs and campaign ribbons and promotions.

    Last does it seem like a funny coincidence that the people that it is “absolutely vital” (In the words of his O’ness) for us to kill always turns out to inhabit the poorest and weakest of nations as far from the sight of the American people as it is possible to get on this planet.

    Danielle E. (Beth) Lyles M.S.

    April 17, 2010 at 3:06 am

  5. You might find this article interesting: Return to ‘Indian Country’: The Global War on Tribes

    The War on Terror is really a scam to cover up neo-Colonialism and resource wars. And we’re killing off the remaining people who know how to live sustainable lives.


    April 17, 2010 at 12:02 pm

  6. I think these people realize that 9/11 was a inside job and were at war against innocent people. Israel did 9/11

    Justin Moe

    November 11, 2010 at 12:57 pm

  7. […] Before the start of both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the suicide rate in the military was less than the […]

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