Military suicide rate

Discussion in 'Warfare / Military' started by Mushroom, Jan 14, 2018.

  1. Mushroom

    Mushroom Well-Known Member

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    This is a topic that a lot of people have been talking about for a decade now. Things like 22 and other stunts that try to bring attention to this topic. Just today I had the following challenge.

    Now I have long thought on this issue, and I think the only real difference is intent and determination.

    Now one thing about people who attempt suicide among the general population is that you often have multiple attempts. Actress Barbara Bennett tried to kill herself 4 times before she ultimately did. Kurt Kobain attempted suicide at least 3 times before he shot himself. Sid Vicious tried 2 times before he did.

    Wendy O. Williams tried 2 times. The first by hammering a knife into her chest, the second by a drug overdose before succeeding with a gun.

    I think the biggest difference in people who have served is that by their training they simply tend to take action. Where as most people will tend to "dither" and play around with it (which is seen in the multiple attempts), somebody who spent years in being trained to simply act will do just that when they have reached that decision.

    And when the decision is made to act, they follow it through as they have been trained. Not half-hearted, they simply try to accomplish the task they set themselves on as best they can.

    And another career that results in high suicide rates is those in law enforcement. This is another group that is trained in much the same manner. When you decide to take an action, you do it as best as you can.

    I have 3 friends who have had at least 2 suicide attempts that I am aware of. One was by drugs/medication both times, one was by drugs the first time, then by stepping into traffic. One family member has had at least 5 attempts (4 by drugs/medication, one with a gun but panicked at the last moment and shot their arm).

    On the other hand I know 2 I served with that did. One jumped from the balcony of a 5 floor hotel, the other shot himself in the head. The reports showed no other attempts, only the one successful one.

    I tried to find statistics on number of attempts by military and non-military, but pretty much came up empty. But I would bet that the military side has a much lower number of attempts, as they are probably more likely to "get it right the first time".
     
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  2. Chester_Murphy

    Chester_Murphy Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Since it's become a more common practice in recent years, either it is being reported more, or there is a systemic problem within the nation due to unfair practices placing more emotional and physical burden on certain folks, or few have ever experienced the responsibility and philosophy required when in the military, in their civilian life.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2018
  3. Mushroom

    Mushroom Well-Known Member

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    Actually, the military suicide rate for those who are in is not much above the statistical norm. The real blip is in "Veteran", when including those that are serving, as well as those who have served in the past.

    To give an example, actor Brian Keith was a veteran. He served as the gunner on a Marine dive bomber during WWII and was decorated for his service. But in his final years he was diagnosed with emphysema, lung cancer, and he was in financial trouble. And 2 months prior his daughter had killed herself.

    I do not believe there was a single connection to his making the decision to kill himself. Yet statistically he is a "veteran suicide", even though his service had ended over 50 years prior.
     
  4. Seth Bullock

    Seth Bullock Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    You're probably right about military vets, and police, "getting it right the first time".

    Saddest thing ... My son fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, and his battalion lost 27 in combat. He has lost as many to suicide since then.

    I don't think military screeners can do anything about it. I don't think it's possible to predict how well a person will deal with PTS.

    What we can do is to make sure that our veterans receive the best post-war care and support that we can possibly give them.

    And there are organizations that do amazingly good work. Sentinels of Freedom and the Gary Sinise Foundation are two of the very best.

    Seth
     
  5. liberalminority

    liberalminority Well-Known Member

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    it is hard to compete in the workforce after seeing combat for some, not most. there is shame for the few who are seen as not taking personal responsibility when asking for help as with civilians.

    the suspicion delays their resources like money from pensions and health care.

    unfortunately it takes a long time to correct as the wars before like vietnam have shown.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2018
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  6. Nightmare515

    Nightmare515 Ragin' Cajun Staff Member Past Donor

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    The military is just a stressful profession overall. Obviously some jobs within the military are more stressful than others but many jobs take a serious mental toll on people.

    The combat aspect plays a part. This is the only time in history to where nearly every Soldier or Marine who has been in the military for over 5 years has been to war. We've been at war for 17 years, virtually everybody has been to war, many multiple times. That takes a toll. Plus military service in general can be stressful even when not deployed. Like I've said before, this is one of the few professions where physical punishment and screaming at people are acceptable forms of discipline, the former even covered under doctrine. That's stressful.

    Suicide is a real thing and it's unfortunately very very prevalent and difficult to detect. I personally have two former Soldiers and good friends of mine kill themselves in the past 5 years. Both times it was a complete shock to me and everybody else. The second guy I literally joked around with and spoke to days prior and noticed absolutely nothing whatsoever to indicate that he was having issues. Then low and behold a few days later I get notified that he had in fact taken his own life.

    Why they did that? I have no idea, to this day I have no idea. Perhaps it was the wars that took their toll on them mentally and it finally became too much. Folks react to things differently, I stood side by side with them during the wars but it didn't mess me up like that. Another good friend of mine who served with me in Afghanistan returned home and went into an insane asylum weeks after getting home. It screwed him up that bad.

    Family issues can play a part as well. Off the top of my head right now I can name about 6 or 7 people who I personally know who have been screwed over by their spouses while deployed overseas. I'm sure nothing hurts worse than looking at your bank account to see that your funds have all been drained then realize that your spouse has taken all of the money and your children and left while you are in the middle of Iraq or Afghanistan. But that happens, A LOT, and it's terrible. But it's perfectly legal which is a whole other argument.

    Basically this is just a hard life to live. The pay is decent depending on your rank but the overall cognitive stress of this profession can take a mental toll on you. I've seen so many people break, not even while deployed but back home in garrison due to a number of circumstances. Hell I broke at one point, the cognitive stress of everything had finally caught up to me and I was sent to a neuropsychologist to get evaluated and MRI's and everything. Turns out the years of stress had taken it's toll on me to the point where my brain was shutting down and I was having difficulty with the most basic of problem solving tasks. I basically couldn't solve kindergarten level puzzles anymore. I was one of 4 others who within a span of 6 months had to take a knee. 1 guy developed some severe anxiety issues and was deemed unfit to do his job anymore. Another guy developed anxiety so bad that he had a heart attack and was too deemed unfit to do his job anymore. The other guy had to take emergency leave for a week just to reset his batteries because he was suffering from anxiety attacks as well but he was able to duck and dodge the docs before they caught him. And these weren't new guys unused to the rigors of military life, the average time in service between us all was 15 years. Yeah....it can be stressful lol

    I personally have been through some pretty hard times throughout my career. Multiple deployments, family left me years ago, have to eat painkillers daily, keep getting stationed in places I hate with a passion LOL, etc. So I can certainly see how this takes a toll on people. I have personally never even considered something as drastic as suicide but I've seen it all too often and I can understand how the overall toll of everything can push somebody to the brink. And there is no real way to figure out how this stuff will affect an individual. I've wiped blood off of my face and picked up severed body parts in Afghanistan and came home and had a few beers with no issues. Other guys I know get shot at one time and literally lose their minds and end up in psyche wards. There are also guys who are even more stressed out than I am at work right now who just keep up chugging along smiling while I had a mental breakdown and was sent to a neuro shrink because I could no longer add 2+2.

    This stuff is different for everybody and sadly I don't think it will get any better any time soon. The military is hurting, we don't have enough bodies anymore and more and more is expected of those who are left. The stress never ends it just gets compiled. Right before Christmas last year a good friend of mine at work who has 17 years of service broke down. He's alive right now because our buddy caught him in time. A few mins later and he would be dead from overdose. He now spends his days in and out of drug treatment centers and is obviously being kicked out of the military. I spoke to him 2 weeks ago and he looked "great" and had a smile on his face and everything. And his latest psyche test showed him to be "normal". His response was simple, the stress is gone and it feels like the entire world is off of my shoulders. I don't have to goto bed with anxiety worrying about this job anymore. The removal of the stress is saving his life. And that was the second time he failed at trying to kill himself in the span of about 6 months.

    The stress is real, and it is deadly. It's by no means just the wars that are doing this to people, it's a whole lot of other crap too. "Just keep going" is no longer acceptable. That mentality is literally killing people and the powers at be need to seriously take a good hard unbiased look at this and ask themselves the question that the military is never supposed to ask. Are we asking too much of people now?

    The answer is yes.
     
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  7. liberalminority

    liberalminority Well-Known Member

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    they appear not to show much compassion because it is a volunteer force, the recruiter uses the fear of poverty as a strategy. those freedom fighters may have taken their lives because they didn't feel there is a bright future for them or the people they were defending.

    everyone wants a good future, and they say either you die here in a poor community working 80 hours a week at several minimum wage jobs, or take the risk there for a better life later on with in demand job skills and free education.

    President Trump is working on making the economy good again, that may not cure sadness, but it would go a long way for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in both civilian and military alike. good luck and thanks for choosing to defend our freedom.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2018
  8. Nightmare515

    Nightmare515 Ragin' Cajun Staff Member Past Donor

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    I don't believe that the powers at be have no compassion. I believe that we are just stretched too thin and brass from all levels is simply trying their best to make everything work with what we have.

    Here's the thing, America isn't going to stop trying to fight planet Earth. That's just how we are, we have troops all over the globe and we aren't going to NOT continue to do that. We can all sit around and say what should or shouldn't be going on or whats right or wrong but that is irrelevant. We have to look at what IS, and what IS is America is going to maintain a global military presence regardless. What that means is that we will either do that with twice as many troops or half as many troops or any number inbetween. If we don't have enough to make life "comfortable" for the troops then so be it, we will just have to make life uncomfortable for them, which is what's going on now. Deploy, come home for a bit, deploy, come home for a bit, etc. There are so many requirements for troops everywhere that we are forced to keep sending the same people overseas all the time. And when the troops are home there are tons of requirements nearly to the point of when you're home you aren't even really home because we don't have enough troops to fulfill the stateside requirements because they are all deployed so the ones who are home have to fulfill those requirements. Sadly it's damn near to the point where troops would rather be deployed then "home" and having to do so much.

    Problem is that what exactly are Commanders supposed to do? You can't exactly tell the people above you "no" regardless of what rank they are and that extends all the way down from Company Commanders dealing with Battalion to Division and Corp Commanders dealing with the Pentagon. If they say go then you go, you can't say "we don't have the bodies" they say "make it work". So that's what we do and it just rolls downhill all the way to the lowest levels. I have never once in my career deployed to a warzone with enough personnel to fill all of our required roles, not once. We go anyway and we do indeed just "make it work" which makes it twice as hard but that's how it goes.

    So in turn that just stresses everyone out from all levels, and eventually that stress builds up in some people to where they break. Like I said before I honestly in my heart do believe that the Federal Government cares about it's military personnel. I just believe that they are asking more than the military as a whole is ABLE to give them which is why we are having such retention and recruitment issues right now.

    The generation prior to ours enjoyed careers of relative peace. Unless you were SOCOM, besides the Gulf War and a few smaller conflicts like Bosnia you could have a relatively peaceful career and live a "relatively" normal life as far as military life goes. After 9/11 that went out of the door. Nowadays you have to be ready to give pretty much your entire life to military service and a lot of people just don't want to do that anymore.

    This is by no means, and I mean absolutely NO MEANS a knock on anybody who served in the years after Vietnam and prior to 9/11, I have the absolute utmost respect for anybody who serves in the military and I mean that. But as my father told me after I returned from my first deployment to the middle east many years ago, son you've done more in your first 2 years of service than I did in my entire 24. Now imagine spanning that over a 20 year career and you can easily see how exhausting that can be. And exhausted is what we are. And there is no end in sight and that alone is taking a huge toll on people.
     
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  9. liberalminority

    liberalminority Well-Known Member

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    sounds like the only way to ease the burden on the military is to either bring back the draft, or create a good economy for an increased volunteer force.

    more people join when the economy is good, because they know they will be fighting for our and their freedom to pursue happiness with good paying jobs.

    thanks for your services.
     
  10. Nightmare515

    Nightmare515 Ragin' Cajun Staff Member Past Donor

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    Thank You

    I don't personally believe in a draft nor do I want one. I believe the most effective way to gain recruitment is for the government as a whole to just pull back a little bit. Now granted I'm a realist and I get it, it's not like we can say "Hey enemies of America please stop acting up because our troops are tired of being at war all the time. Please act up starting in 2020 so that our boys and girls can get a break". We can't pick and choose when wars start (well we kind of can but you get what I'm saying).

    In spite of what many may believe it's not really a moral issue that is driving the exhaustion. Most troops actually feel like we do need the military presence we have, and feel the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan were and are justified. Problem is that they are sick of being the ones who have to go. It's like yes I believe US intervention in Iraq was necessary but damn I don't want to go to Iraq AGAIN.

    Many civilians I've talked to have simply told me "well that is your job isn't it?" Well yes but damn....Yes my job is to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, etc. But in a less romanticized definition the reality is that my job is to fight America's wars. Which I am perfectly fine with and I understand but there does come a point when people say alright can I just be in the military....I've fought the wars, again, and again, and again, can it be someone elses turn now?

    I get how that sounds, stepping outside of the box it sounds like whining and it sounds ridiculous. You are in the military but don't want to go to war? What are our tax dollars paying you for then? It's not that, it's more like troops just want something resembling a life as well. And I believe that if the future of military service looked to be able to give people something resembling a life outside of the uniform then more folks would be willing to sign up. You see your baby born (if you're lucky), the next time you see him he's walking, next time you see him instead of "goo goo gaa gaa" he says "whats up dad?", that can be stressful. It's just too much for many people.

    Put it this way, I'm single (now), and a few weeks ago my landlord came to my house for me to re-sign my lease. I sat at the table and signed it then thought about it for a second and just started laughing. He looked at me puzzled and asked me what was so funny? "This is the first time in my entire career that I have ever been able to sign a lease twice".

    ^^That right there is what I'm talking about. I've never been in one spot for longer than 1 year and I never thought about it until I signed that paper again. I know for 100% certainty that I won't sign it again this year. But just think about that for a moment. And I'm single now (because of that), but imagine what a life like that would be like for somebody with a wife and kids.

    That's the problem. The pay is pretty good, at least for me and what I do, but as a buddy of mine who just left service said "Decent pay allows me to buy my son nice things, it doesn't raise my son".

    I'm not really complaining but rather just trying to shed light on the actual problem and reasons why we are having recruitment and retention issues. This is voluntary, I can walk out the door if I so desire (when the contract expires), so I chose this life and the hardships that come along with it. But from many many years of service and talking to people and seeing whats going on I have a pretty good handle about why few people want to do this job anymore.

    In layman's terms, we work too damn much. And that's not just me saying that by any means.
     
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  11. Mushroom

    Mushroom Well-Known Member

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    Actually, not true.

    At the height of the combat (2011), around 75% of military personnel had deployed. But in the years since then with the increased drawdowns in Iraq and Afghanistan, that number has significantly reduced, to around 40% and falling.

    And simply because a person had deployed to a "war zone" does not mean they have deployed "to war". That percentage drops significantly lower, to around 10-15%. Huge numbers of "war zone deployments" see members going no closer than Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, UAE, and the like.

    And over half (53%) of military suicides are by people who have never deployed.

    So that does not match your claims.
     
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  12. Natural Citizen

    Natural Citizen Active Member

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    PTSD meds have a lot to do with many of the suicides, I think.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2018
  13. Natural Citizen

    Natural Citizen Active Member

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    Where do you get that stat from? I'm not challenging it because I don't know, I'm just wondering.
     
  14. crank

    crank Well-Known Member

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    Officers, or low ranks?

    When you spot the difference, you learn much.
     
  15. crank

    crank Well-Known Member

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    It's almost certainly correct. This isn't about being in the military, it's about the type of people enlisting (today).
     
  16. crank

    crank Well-Known Member

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    The meds involved are not prescribed for non-veterans. Non-veterans cannot be diagnosed with PTSD, obviously.
     
  17. Natural Citizen

    Natural Citizen Active Member

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    Worst part about it is it's all being done without a declaration of war.
     
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  18. Natural Citizen

    Natural Citizen Active Member

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    Yes, I know. I'm talking about vets.
     
  19. Mushroom

    Mushroom Well-Known Member

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    Primarily from memory, we had our annual suicide prevention class 2 months ago. And that was 2016 data. But here is some other.

    https://taskandpurpose.com/truth-22-veteran-suicides-day/

    This is why I encourage people to do research. There is a lot of puzzlement about these numbers. But the 2 biggest reasons (as with all suicides) tend to be money or relationship issues.
     
  20. crank

    crank Well-Known Member

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    Exactly. It's a reflection of the 'quality' of people enlisting.
     
  21. Natural Citizen

    Natural Citizen Active Member

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    Thanks. I'll check it out.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2018
  22. Nightmare515

    Nightmare515 Ragin' Cajun Staff Member Past Donor

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    I never said it was the sole reason, I said that it certainly plays a part which it does. I've seen it with my own eyes plenty of times with friends of mine. Guys I know who were perfectly fine even after deploying multiple times, then for some reason a specific deployment just breaks them.
     
  23. Nightmare515

    Nightmare515 Ragin' Cajun Staff Member Past Donor

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    Not necessarily. Yes the relatively decent pay of the military does attract those who may feel they have no other options, but not all. Many still do join because they actually want to serve. And most of the relationship issues happen during military service because of the hectic lifestyle.
     
  24. liberalminority

    liberalminority Well-Known Member

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    agreed, it appears every once in awhile the powers that be sabotage the economy to weed out the weak with money or relationship issues

    https://www.britannica.com/topic/social-Darwinism
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2018
  25. crank

    crank Well-Known Member

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    Those conditions (of service) have always existed. There is a 'weakness' to the modern low ranker, which wasn't there earlier. Some one else mentioned that these are men who've not previously had any experience with responsibility. That's a very astute observation.
     

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