Essay on Suicide in the Military

2234 Words9 Pages
Suicide in the Military
Candace L. Clark
Park University
October 7, 2009

Stressed by war and long overseas tours, U.S. soldiers killed themselves last year at the highest rate on record, the toll rising for a fourth straight year and even surpassing the suicide rate among comparable civilians. Army leaders said they were doing everything they could think of to curb the deaths and appealed for more mental health professionals to join and help out. Clearly, the military is going above and beyond to try and prevent further lives from being taken. According to the sociologist Emile Durkheim, when a person has a very strong degree of social connectedness, he or she may identify with its values or causes to such an extent that
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“We must eliminate the perceived stigma, shame and dishonor of asking for help,” said Adm. Patrick Walsh, vice chief of naval operations. “This is not simply an issue isolated to the medical community to recognize and resolve...” Such efforts should include keeping an eye on those closest to the suicide victim, said Brian Altman, acting chief operating officer for Suicide Prevention Action Network USA, a Washington-based public policy and advocacy group. (Air Force Times). The Air Force lost 38 airmen to suicide in 2008, a rate of 11.5 suicides per 100,000 airmen. The average over the past five years — since the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom — was 11 deaths per 100,000 annually. Of the airmen lost in 2008, 95 percent were men and 89 percent were enlisted. Young enlisted men with a rank of E1 to E4 and between the ages of 21 and 25 have the highest risk of suicide. Recently released data indicates that active duty males carry, for the first time in known history, a suicide risk greater than that of comparable males in the general population (Psychotherapy Brown Bag, 2009). This is particularly noteworthy considering that the military entrance process screens out serious mental illness prior to entry onto active duty, and that the rate of suicide in military males has historically been significantly lower than comparable civilian populations. To help
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