Suicide In The Army

I don’t know what to say about this, other than that it’s just awful:

“Stressed by war and long overseas tours, U.S. soldiers killed themselves last year at the highest rate on record, the toll rising for a fourth straight year and even surpassing the suicide rate among comparable civilians. Army leaders said they were doing everything they could think of to curb the deaths and appealed for more mental health professionals to join and help out.

At least 128 soldiers committed suicide in 2008, the Army said Thursday. And the final count is likely to be even higher because 15 more suspicious deaths are still being investigated.

“Why do the numbers keep going up? We cannot tell you,” said Army Secretary Pete Geren. “We can tell you that across the Army we’re committed to doing everything we can to address the problem.” (…)

The new suicide figure compares with 115 in 2007 and 102 in 2006 and is the highest since current record-keeping began in 1980. Officials expect the deaths to amount to a rate of 20.2 per 100,000 soldiers, which is higher than the civilian rate — when adjusted to reflect the Army’s younger and male-heavy demographics — for the first time in the same period of record-keeping.”

It’s not the most important detail, but for some reason what really gets to me, just now, is the thought of these soldiers’ friends and family members, who have been hoping against hope that their loved ones don’t get shot or blown up, having to come to terms with the idea that even though they managed to escape enemy fire and IEDs, they killed themselves. Having been through the plain vanilla version of grieving, I cannot imagine what that extra twist must do. Nor, frankly, do I want to. My heart goes out to them.