Saturday, September 08, 2007

When Was The Last Time You Thought About Blowing Your Brains Out?

Some shocking statistics show that if you are in the United States Military, then there is a good chance that it hasn't been too long since you thought about suicide. After reading this distressing article, and doing some further research of my own around the web (mainly at this site), I came up with some startling figures.

The suicide rate amongst members of the United States Army is the highest it has been in twenty-six years. There were 118 suicides in the American Armed Forces in 2006, which is a staggering number when you consider that the number-one killer (come on, you all know what that is - IEDs) of our children in Iraq only killed 462 in 2006. This means that self-inflicted deaths have caused one quarter as many deaths as the cause of death we all know from the evening news. IED is a house-hold term nowadays, and yet we never hear about how frequent suicides are today within our armed forces. The total number of dead United States troops in Iraq was 822 in the year of 2006 alone. That means that 14.35% of all the deaths in 2006 were from suicides! That's an enormous percentage!

All of this comes at a time when the Army, in particular, is attempting to find ways to help their members to a larger degree as far as their mental health is concerned. It's a good thing, because 100 of the 118 suicides in 2006 came from the Army alone. Fourteen were from the Marines, and four were from the Navy. There were no suicides in 2006 amongst members of our Air Force.

Why is this? Experts say that it is mostly because of the protracted involvement we have had with Iraq. Things have gone on much longer than expected, and the reasons for our occupation are becoming less and less clear as time goes on. Well, that's what I got from the article, but I would contend that it doesn't take an expert to figure that out.

Frankly, it is disgusting when the numbers are crunched. We hear constantly how this soldier and that soldier got blown into hamburger by an IED on some stranger's street in some stranger's country fighting for no good reason. I cannot recall one instance of hearing a news story about suicides in our armed forces. If it causes roughly 25% as many deaths, you would think there would be at least one story about it, right?

The report that announced these numbers said that there was a direct correlation between the number of days deployed and suicide. Before I get emails from people saying that this report must be published by some "liberally biased site," let me just state that the report was published by the United States Army.

I hope this blog gets you to think, and to perhaps take some action.

"But R.A.Matheson," I can hear you asking, "what action can I take?"

If you are in a major city, then I can guarantee that there are plenty of anti-war rallies in your area. If you aren't in a city of substantial size, you can hook up with like-minded individuals by posting on bookstore bulletin boards, or handing out flyers. Start your own thing if there is nothing around. If these options aren't doable, get online and start blogging about it, or go and support websites such as, or do all of the above.

No matter what you do, it helps. Even discussing it with friends or family helps raise awareness of the issue, and awareness is the first step to taking action.

Click Here Subscribe to The Blog of R.A.Matheson by Email

Add to Google

Click this to add this blog to your My AOL, My Yahoo, Google Homepage, or other reader!


Tonya said...

I read something on this about a month ago, and passed it on to a good high school friend who has been to Iraq many times and is now being treated for PTSD.

My father served in Vietnam and then later Desert Storm, and ended up drinking himself to death.

The one thing that gets me about some people is that they say showing support for ending the war is a way of saying you don't love the troops.

That is ridiculous! I support every person in our military - they are brave people that put their lives on the line.

But I can't stand the administration that sends them off to fight a battle that makes no sense.

ramatheson said...

I'm sorry to hear about your father. I agree with your other points wholeheartedly.

Tonya said...

I just read an article on WRAL that was along the lines of this subject: