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Army Suicide Rates to Exceed the Number of Suicides Last Year


Fort Hood was the where an American tragedy took place a few weeks back when an army psychiatrist killed 13 of his fellow soldiers. This clearly showed that that soldiers, even those that are not in combat need helping in dealing with conditions like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other mental issues.

Statistics show that since the United States has been at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the suicide rates in the army have risen steadily, and in 2008, 140 soldiers committed suicide. This statistic has become real issue in the armed forces community, and General George Casey has concerns about the status of the armed forces as suicide rates are increasing.

Suicides have increased in the Army since 2004, and last year, the service exceeded the civilian rate. “Unfortunately, the progression will remain about the same this year,” Casey said. “We’ll exceed the number of suicides last year.”

In a recent interview with CNN, General Casey said the Army has worked hard on developing programs to maintain the psychological health of the service, but much more needs to be done Casey said.
He explained that soldiers who spend one year in combat need about two years to return to normal civilian life. Casey summed up by asking if we are doing the right things to keep our uniformed men and women as safe as possible. This is an important question to ask, especially after the Fort Hood tragedy and with suicide rates increasing.

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Casey emphasized that the Army has stressed mental fitness for several years and has launched campaigns to reduce the stigma associated with seeking health for psychological trauma. The service needs to do more, the general acknowledged, but has made a good start in bringing to the forefront the need to seek help for post-traumatic stress disorder. The stigma attached to seeking mental health treatment is not just an Army problem, Casey noted. “This is a societal problem that we all have to wrestle with.”

Currently, the military does not have enough resources to provide mental health care to soldiers returning home from Iraq or Afghanistan. There is a low number of psychiatrists available to help treat soldiers who have developed anxiety disorders upon returning to the United States.
The Army has hired more than 900 additional medical health providers in the last two years, Casey said, and the Tricare military health system has hired more than 2,800.

In addition, Casey said, a Defense Department military family life consultants program sends certified behavioral health specialists to Army brigades returning from deployment.

A new program signed into law about two weeks ago by President Barack Obama state that troops coming back from combat will be required to be interviewed by counselors to help them with PTSD and suicidal ideations. As of yet there are no laws that can force a soldier to expose how they are feeling. Problem is getting the staff to run and complete this program.

Written by Tyler Woods Ph.D.
Tucson, Arizona
Exclusive to eMaxHealth