The Washington Post is reporting today that the suicide rate among active duty soldiers is on pace to pass last year’s all-time high of 18.1 suicides per 100,000 soldiers. If this rate continues, it will be the first time since the Vietnam War that the soldiers’ suicide rate has exceeded the suicide rate of the general American population—19.5 per 100,000.
It’s a heart-breaking commentary on the catastrophic execution of this war that the soldiers in our all-volunteer military are killing themselves at the same rate as the Vietnam-era’s heavily drafted force.
The Army is taking new measures to help soldiers cope.
From the article:
The latest Army prevention efforts include the hiring of hundreds of new mental health providers, the production of an interactive video on the subject, to be released this fall, and the introduction of an intervention program aimed at teaching junior Army leaders not only suicidal symptoms but actions that can prevent suicides.
The ACE program includes handing out laminated cards decorated with the ace of hearts that advise three steps — “ask,” “care” and “escort” — that spell “ACE”: Ask your buddy direct questions such as “Are you thinking of killing yourself?”; care for your buddy by taking away weapons; and escort your buddy to a military chaplain or health provider.
“Take away the weapon if someone is playing Russian roulette with it. . . . Unfortunately, people have not always done that,” said Brig. Gen. Rhonda Cornum, the Army’s assistant surgeon general for force protection. Army prevention programs to this point have not trained soldiers adequately in what to do after they learn a comrade is in crisis, she added.
Another measure that Cornum said has proven effective is for Army commanders in combat zones to take a more “humanistic” approach and to return soldiers home so they can deal with personal crises and thereby “live another day to keep serving.”
Here’s an idea: end the war.