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11 October 2010


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"So, they told them and the listeners were so obviously frightened and disturbed that they didn't do it again."

I think that sums it all up.

Reminds me of R. L. Burnside's song, "It's bad you know"

"she asked me why, I just went on and told her"


I'd be interested to know if other NATO forces are seeing the same incidence of troops killing themselves. I've not noticed any news stories from other countries.

An aside a grieving mother in the UK asked that this video be show on TV Channel4:


She was questioning or better wondering if UK troops are given needed local support insitu.


Indication are that Australian troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are also having issues with PTSD and suicide. Not yet sure about the size of the problem.

anna missed

It's my opinion that the symptoms of PTSD manifest themselves in a variety of ways, the central ingredient of which is the loss of (a stable) personal identity. This happens when one's experiences or actions push them beyond the boundary's they use to define themselves. This disconnect then manifests an array of symptoms designed to deny, embrace, or otherwise process their sense of themselves into a new (reconstructed) identity they might be able to comfortably live with. It's only when they cannot do this, or when they don't like what they have become, that they might decide not to live with themselves anymore.

Nancy K

I worked for over 35 years as a nurse, many of those as a psychiatric nurse. During the 70's I can remember talking with several young men who had been in the military and were hospitalized after trying to kill themselves or for depression.
From these conversations I believe that while in the military, they had a support group of other soldiers and even if they had done something that may seem horrible to those outside of war, they were with others who had done similiar things, so they felt normal.
When they came home however it was more difficult to live with some of the things they had seen or done and they no longer had a support group of those who understood them. Family may love them but they have not seen what they have seen.
Returning soldiers need to have continued contact with other soldiers and to be able to talk to people who are not judgmental and are accepting.

William R. Cumming

When a countries leaders are incapable of articulating a mission and goals with some clarity then those attempting to deal with that major deficiency in their lives are due to face extremes of uncertainty when asked repeatedly to bear the ultimate price for defending our Countries goals, missions, and objectives.
So perhaps time again for each of the readers of this blog to state what is the mission of the US in Afghanistan and Iraq?

Mine is to assist in reduction of direct threats to the US and increase stability in those geographic regions. It also cannot be done with organized violence alone or by remote means--Predator strikes--so perhaps the goals I have described are beyond US current capability. And if so what does that portend for our future involvement in those two countries and regions?

Carl O.

This problem has been growing since at least 2003, when i first took note of a number of suicides among soldiers deployed in Iraq. The problem has been rgowing since then despite the highly publicized efforts by the Army in particular to deal with it, efforts that have met with little success. The actual number of suicides is probably higher since there's always a number of deaths where the intention of the victim is not determined and are therefore recorded as accidental. Nor is this a new problem, which is obvious to anyone who has looked at the suicide rate among Vietnam veterans. It has been said, even, that the number of Vietnam veterans who have committed suicide now exceeds the number of killed in action in that war. Combat has always had a traumatic effect on those who experience it. That story is as old as war itself. And some portion of combat veterans never truly recover from it. THese current wars are different only in that they are being fought with a small pool of manpower, meaning the same people are being deployed over and over and over again, which seems to have a magnifying effect on the stresses that they experience. My suspicion is that, as bad as the mental health problems are in the Army today, that we'll being seeing much worse from this veteran population once they leave the military.


Carl O.

Things will also be worse for veterans in future years if the continued 'health care costs are eating the DOD alive' attitude continues amongst our political leaders as thier solution will be to keep the weapons programs and cut the benefits, after they get labeled as 'entitlements' so it can be politically expedient to cut them.


I wonder how many of the suicides were scheduled for yet another deployment.

Those drafted to Viet Nam and today's volunteers were/are about the same age. At least the former were forced to endure only one 12-13 month tour.

Patrick Lang


The one tour thing had to be a help. The draftees and draft induced volunteers, all junior enlisted men looked forward to their DEROS as though it was the date of the second coming.

Knowing the date that you will deploy again must be a burden.

I doubt what was said here of suicide among those who served in VN. That sounds to me like left wing romanticism. pl


"Pitman and colleagues from Harvard and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs looked to 103 pairs of identical male twins from the Vietnam Era Twin Registry to test whether trauma truly causes PTSD, or if its sufferers would have developed symptoms of the disorder regardless. One brother from each pair had been exposed to combat in the Vietnam War; the other had not. Fifty of the combat-exposed men had PTSD.

The researchers found a substantial difference in mental disorders between the twins: Men exposed to combat and diagnosed with PTSD had three-fold more symptoms than their brothers, as well as compared to the combat veterans without PTSD and their co-twins."

From http://www.mnn.com/green-tech/research-innovations/stories/twin-study-may-quiet-doubts-over-ptsd-trauma-link

Carl O.

Col. Lang,

I would suggest you do some research on the problem of suicides among Vietnam veterans before you denounce what is said about them as "left wing romanticism." You do those who have suffered through this a massive disservice by saying such a thing. One can quibble about the numbers, but it's a very large and a very real problem.


You are absolutely correct about the attitude of the DoD. I've been told that it's already causing problems for people in the military and their fmilies.


A Canadian intelligence officer, Maj. Michelle Mendes, committed suicide in Kandahar in April 2009. As is often the case with suicide, it's really not clear to anyone why she did it.

Patrick Lang

Carl O

Are you a combat veteran? Are you a VN veteran? I am both. Bite my a--. pl

Patrick Lang


So what? What's the correlation between diagnosed PTSD and suicide? pl


Suicide isn't uncommon. Third leading cause of death for those under 24. Tenth overall. The male suicide rate in the US is 17 per 100,000 per year. Given that you'd expect, even if serving in Vietnam meant you were at no greater risk than the general population that around 15 thousand veterans, give or take would have committed suicide by now, (it's a very rough calculation.

Vietnam veterans would have to be killing themselves at the same rates as gay teenagers to get to the number of suicides as casualties.

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