Thursday, June 9, 2011

Suicides in the Army

There is a very interesting article in the Stars and Stripes on suicides in the military.  According to the article, "The U.S. Army is confronting an unprecedented suicide crisis. Since the start of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, more than 1,100 soldiers have taken their own lives, with the numbers escalating each year for the last six years. Last year alone, 301 soldiers committed suicide — a new record."  The article highlights the suicide of Army Spc. Brushaun Anderson.  Anderson left behind a note lamenting his failures in the military, and some soldiers in his unit immediately said that Anderson had been driven to kill himself by leaders bent on humiliating him. According to reports, senior noncommissioned officers "who ruled his life" in Iraq ordered him to wear a plastic trash bag because they said he was “dirty.”  It is also reported that they repeatedly forced him to perform excessive physical exercises in his body armor.  On New Year’s Day 2010 the "20-year-old soldier locked himself inside a portable toilet, picked up his M4 rifle, aimed the barrel at his forehead and pulled the trigger."  The Army has spent more than $75 million on studies to try to understand the problem and reverse the devastating trend.