July 16, 2013
We can pretend all of this is new. That somehow young men and women entering into the military are more prone to suicide, or whatever excuse the military has been offering so far, but excuses do not explain what is going on.
Military suicide problem hits home at MacDill
By Howard Altman
Published: July 15, 2013
Douglas Caldas was the life of any party, according to his brother and girlfriend, a guy who could bring two disparate groups together just by pulling off a joke. He was a hard worker with track record of success at his job.
But on Friday, the Air Force senior airman from New Jersey, who had been stationed at MacDill Air Force Base for four years, stabbed himself to death, according to the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner's Office. Caldas, one of more than 100 confirmed military suicides so far this year, was 25.
Suicide is a problem the military is struggling to handle. There were 488 confirmed military suicides around the globe last year and another 27 suspected, compared with 298 deaths in combat. The trend is continuing this year - 102 confirmed and 66 suspected suicides, compared with 75 combat deaths, according to figures compiled by the Tribune last month from records kept by the individual services.
Last year, the Pentagon introduced a suicide prevention plan that called for increased responsibility by military leaders; improved quality and access to health care; elevated mental fitness; and increased research into suicide prevention.
Yet men and women continue to kill themselves.
"There have been so many (suicides) lately," said Wynn Dressler, 28, an Air Force staff sergeant, who had been living with Caldas for the past 10 months. "When I was in Turkey, there were three when I was there. I know another girl who was here prior, she committed suicide. Another guy came back and his wife was cheating on him. He blew his head off in base police cop car."
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Gee that sounds really bad but also wrong. For starters, the DOD has not released the suicide reports for May or June yet. They are also wrong because they have not completed the Suicide Event Report for 2012. All we can do right now is guess based on what they do end up telling reporters. The facts are in the comprehensive reports researchers have been waiting for.
First we need to look at the Vietnam War to see what has been missed by journalists.
Number of RecordsACCIDENT9,107DECLARED DEAD1,201DIED OF WOUNDS5,299HOMICIDE236ILLNESS938KILLED IN ACTION40,934PRESUMED DEAD (BODY REMAINS RECOVERED)32PRESUMED DEAD (BODY REMAINS NOT RECOVERED)91SELF-INFLICTED382Total Records58,220
382 Confirmed "self-inflicted during the entire Vietnam War. Last year alone the DOD reported more than that number for 2012. While the full Department of Defense Suicide Event report has not been released for last year we do have an idea of what had been happening before the record high number of suicides.
From THE WARRIOR SAW, SUICIDES AFTER WAR
2003 Army 79 26 while deployed
2004 Army 67 13 while deployed
2005 Army 87 25 while deployed
2006 Army 99 30 while deployed
(Army Suicide Prevention Program Fact Sheet, Army Public Affairs, August 17, 2007) 2007 Army 115 36 while deployed (50 deployed prior to suicide and 29 not deployed)
The following is from the Department of Defense Suicide Event Report.
Air Force Suicides Confirmed and Pending (2011 page 93)Army Confirmed and Pending Suicides (2011 page 128)
241 Airmen who attempted suicide in 251 separate incidents.
Suicide attempts 570 Of the 140 suicides, 34 (24%) occurred in OIF-OEF. One hundred sixteen suicide attempts (12%) were reported to have occurred in OIF-OEF. Nineteen percent of Soldiers with completed suicides, and 14% of Soldiers with suicide attempts, had a history of multiple deployments to Iraq and/or Afghanistan. Of suicide events reported as occurring in theater, the majority was reported to have occurred in Iraq.
Army DoDSERs Submitted for Non-Fatal Events 2,047 Army DoDSERs for non-fatal events were submitted for 2009. Of these, 502 (25%) were submitted for suicide attempts, 347 (17%) for instances of self-harm without intent to die, and 1198 (59%) for suicidal ideation only
DoDSERs provide data on suicide attempts for 400 individuals. Two attempts were reported (DoDSERs submitted) for 11 (2.75%) individuals, and three for one individual (0.25%). Additionally, four Soldiers with a 2010 suicide attempt DoDSER subsequently died by suicide in 2010 and were also included in the preceding section.
440 DoDSERs for 2011 Army suicide attempts. As indicated in Table 5.29, these DoDSERs provide data on suicide attempts for 432 individuals. Two suicide attempt DoDSERs were submitted for 8 (1.85%) individuals 2011 Army suicide attempts 432 individuals with 440 attempts
Marines Confirmed and Pending
2011 156 Marines who attempted suicide in 157 separate incidentsNavy Confirmed and Pending
2011 87 Navy suicide attempts
Department of Defense Suicide Event Report for 2011These are the deaths from suicides for 2012.
For 2011 there were 935 attempted suicides in the military with 915 individuals trying to kill themselves. 896 tried once, 18 tried twice and 1 tried three times.
It is important you know those numbers because of what is in this book. For 2012 it was reported that there were 179 attempted military suicides and the headlines all seemed to read the same way. 349 suicides were successful.
Army National Guards 96
Army Reserves 47
Air Force 59
492 total reported suicides from one year alone.
While these numbers continue to be revised, again, the full report has not been released including the number of attempted suicides.
During the Vietnam War, many were drafted and were forced to be there but the war produced less suicides than when the US began an all volunteer force. So what makes the numbers higher now? Considering since 2006 the Congress and the DOD have funded billions every year in "prevention" you would think there would have been hearings as to what is causing the increase. Then again, you'd also have to believe they are willing to open their eyes, figure out what they got wrong and actually fix it. When we end up with one year's worth of military suicides higher than during the entire Vietnam war after they started to address it, every journalist in the country should be jumping all over this, but they ignore it.
The military loves to play a little game of hide and seek. If they discharge them, they don't have to count them. Then they get lumped into the veteran suicide figures instead of ending up on the DOD accounts. If you read just a few of the links under military suicides, you'll find some of their stories. All of them would have had the "prevention" training and subjected to testing before they were discharged. The DOD wants us to think they have nothing to do with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder even though most of the news reports we read are tied to PTSD among combat veterans.
There is one more frightening aspect to all of this. While at least 22 veterans a day commit suicide, the majority of them are Vietnam veterans. Considering the explosion of active duty suicides already, many more graves will be filled because no one asked for the answers and no one was held accountable.