Sunday, June 16, 2013

524 service members took their own lives in 2012

524 service members took their own lives in 2012
Wounded Times
By Kathie Costos
June 16, 2013

The Department of Defense has not released the suicide numbers for May but they have also not released the Suicide Event Report from 2012. I have to tell you that people tracking all of this are freaking out just as much as I am.

The report includes all branches, statistics on means, deployments, if they were in treatment or not, marital status and even includes the numbers of attempted suicides. These reports are very important to us but when you factor in we're six months into 2013 and the DOD had been collecting the data for all of last year it is very troubling the reports have not been released. What are they doing?

Now comes a flood of reports saying 52% of the military suicides were not tied to deployment. I was reading a great article on the LA Times by reporter Alan Zarembo when I was shocked to read that the new piece of news in it was not what the article was focused on.

The problem with this is the dates. From 2008 to 2011? This isn't news. This is news and should have been in the title itself. Nate Evans was "one of 524 service members who took their own lives in 2012." He had not been deployed into combat so that made the headline. I was screaming that while almost every news report had 349 suicides for 2012, National Guards and Reservists were not included in the number.
Deployment to war doesn't figure in majority of military suicides
Latest stats show 52% who killed themselves in 2008-11 weren't in Iraq or Afghanistan. Some experts say many recruits bring mental health issues with them.

Part of what experts point out is the fact standards were reduced for a time when more troops were needed to support two wars. There are psychological test as well as physical fitness requirements. Some who would not have been able to pass these tests before, were allowed to join.

This was a huge issue when you consider the internet generation were not exactly physically fit and far too many were under the delusion that the military was not much different than the computer games they grew up with. There is also the factor of social networking sites replacing human interactions.

The fear of being discharged is another factor as pointed out in this article.
"Robert Koyle was training to be an Air Force intelligence analyst when his wife discovered a six-page document called "The End." on his home computer.

It described his frustration with what he saw as a culture of bullying in the military, his difficult childhood in Lancaster, Calif., and how his marriage had saved him. His wife, Roni Koyle, said that she urged him to seek help but that he said there was nothing to fear. Besides, he told her, seeing a psychologist would prevent him from getting the security clearance he needed."

Military hazing, sexual assaults on males as well as females, the threat of "other than honorable discharges" and the fact that they cannot give their two weeks notice when they discover they made a mistake enlisting all play a role in the sense of hopelessness. Then there are the news reports of body parts being sent home after an IED has blown up leaves some feeling as if they have no way out.

If you think that PTSD cannot be caused by all of this, you do not understand how average citizens can be hit by what they go through. Feeling as if your life is in danger can cause PTSD. It has been found in survivors of hurricanes, tornadoes, traffic accidents, crime victims as well as the first responders putting their lives on the line.

The military points to relationship problems but never seems to mention that PTSD causes relationship problems as well as substance abuse along with irrational thinking.

There are so many factors playing into all of this but one fact remains avoided. Half do not seek help for PTSD and with that in mind, remember, just because they may not have had a diagnoses of PTSD, that does not mean they did not have it.