Army's Permissive Attitude is Increases Suicide Rates
The U.S. Army released the findings of an internal investigation on July 29, 2010 on the suicide rates. The report suggests that it’s been the Army’s “permissive” attitude toward soldiers and their drug and alcohol abuse that has contributed to the increase in suicides.
Army suicides related to refusal for treatment
The investigation was internal and was commissioned last year by Army commander Gen. Peter Chiarelli, who is the second in command. He says the lenient attitude and refusal for treatment for drug and alcohol problems, and even criminal offenses while remaining enlisted, is linked to a tally of deaths last year that included 160 active-duty soldiers who suicided and 146 more who died during risky activity or behavior such as drug use. The Army noted there were also 1,713 attempted suicides last year.
“This is tragic,” Chiarelli writes in a directive to be sent out to soldiers. “We must realize that on occasion we need to do the right thing for both the soldier and the Army through firm enforcement of discipline, retention and separation polices.”
“What we witnessed were real indicators of stress on the force, and an increasing propensity for Soldiers to engage in high risk behavior,” Chiarelli said. “We recognized almost immediately we had to widen the aperture – risk in the force cannot be mitigated by suicide prevention alone.”
“This comprehensive review exposes gaps in how we identify, engage, and mitigate high-risk behavior among our soldiers. After nearly a decade of war we must keep pace with the expanding needs of our strained Army, and continuously identify and address the gaps that exist in our policies, programs and services,” said Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr.
The U.S. Army report is entitled the Health Promotion, Risk Reduction, and Suicide Prevention (HP/RR/SP) Report, found that there were gaps in the current HP/RR/SP policies, processes and programs necessary to mitigate high risk behaviors. It also showed an increase in indicators of high risk behavior including illicit drug use, other crimes and suicide attempts. The report showed an increased use of prescription antidepressants, amphetamines and narcotics and degraded accountability of disciplinary, administrative and reporting processes.
“These findings demonstrate that many of our programs are unbalanced and lack integration, while reinforcing recommendations that will help us improve the quality of our programs and services,” Chiarelli said.
“We’ve often said that the Army is a reflection of society, but we have soldiers today who are experiencing a lifetime of stress during their first six years of service. Army leaders at all levels remain dedicated to promoting resiliency, coping skills, and help-seeking behavior across our force,” Chiarelli said.