The Army today released suicide data for the month of October. Among active-duty soldiers, there were 16 potential suicides, all of which are pending determination of the manner of death. For September, the Army reported seven potential suicides among active-duty soldiers. Since the release of that report, three have been confirmed as suicides, and four remain under investigation.
There were 133 reported active-duty Army suicides from January 2009 through October 2009. Of those, 90 have been confirmed, and 43 are pending determination of manner of death. For the same period in 2008, there were 115 suicides among active-duty soldiers.
During October 2009, among reserve component soldiers who were not on active duty, there were eight potential suicides. Among that same group, from January 2009 through October 2009, there were 69 reported suicides. Of those, 41 were confirmed as suicides, and 28 remain under investigation to determine the manner of death. For the same period in 2008, there were 47 suicides among reserve soldiers who were not on active duty.
“Stigma continues to be one of the most difficult challenges we confront,” said Brig. Gen. Colleen McGuire, director, Army Suicide Prevention Task Force. “The more we educate our Army community about the need to get help, the need to get it early, and that a full recovery is often possible, the less stigma we’ll see.”
In March, the Army chartered a multi-disciplinary suicide prevention task force to make rapid improvements across the full spectrum of health promotion, risk reduction, and suicide prevention programs. Since its establishment, the task force has made more than 170 improvements to the Army’s health promotion, risk reduction, and suicide prevention policies and programs.
In addition to the Army’s efforts to curb suicides, on October 1, Army leaders announced the formal beginning of the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program. This holistic program is designed to give the same emphasis to psychological, emotional, and mental strength that is given to physical strength.
Comprehensive Soldier Fitness uses a balanced, multi-faceted approach and a life-long learning model that includes individual assessment, tailored virtual training, classroom training at all levels of Army education, and embedded resilience experts to provide soldiers the critical skills they need to face any and all of life's challenges. It is a true prevention model, aimed at the entire force.
Army leaders can access current health promotion guidance in newly revised Army Regulation 600-63 (Health Promotion) at http://www.army.mil/usapa/epubs/pdf/r600_63.pdf .
Soldiers and families in need of crisis assistance can contact Military OneSource or the Defense Center of Excellence (DCOE) for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury Outreach Center. Trained consultants are available from both organizations 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
The Military OneSource toll-free number for those residing in the continental U.S. is 1-800-342-9647; their Web site address is http://www.militaryonesource.com . Overseas personnel should refer to the Military OneSource Web site for dialing instructions for their specific location.
The Army's comprehensive list of Suicide Prevention Program information is located at http://www.armyg1.army.mil/hr/suicide/default.asp .
More information about the Army’s Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program is located at http://www.army.mil/csf/.
WOTN Editor: While every loss of life is painful to family members and friends, while we never want any Soldier to take their own life, the subject of suicide in the Military has become politicized and is used by some to advance a cause by misportraying the facts. The fact remains that in its worst years, suicide in the Military is at or near levels of the same age groups in the Civilian population.
In most years, suicide in the Military is well below the same demographics in the Civilian population. That is a testament to the great men and women that wear the uniform. Given all that is asked of Our Troops, given that so few have ever worn the Uniform, given that combat does change a Warrior, it is not surprising that suicide rates would rise 8 years into a war, particularly when the Troops now question the decisiveness and commitment of their CinC.
Suicide is the result of a person who feels they have lost control and have no impact or importance in the world. Consider that reality when you argue politics, when you use the bodies of Our Nation's Defenders as fodder for your partisan purposes.
Preventing Suicide does not begin with removing the importance of their role in life. It begins with demonstrating the means with which they can retake control of their lives, by demonstrating the impact their lives have on others, to include the lives of Afghan girls, Iraqi schoolchildren, family and friends.