Military Suicides

September 23, 2011 • Volume 21, Issue 33
Is the military doing enough to help soldiers cope?
By Peter Katel

Introduction

Members of the Army's 1st Infantry Division (Getty Images/Chris Hondros)
Members of the Army's 1st Infantry Division attend a suicide prevention class at Fort Riley, Kan. Rising military suicide rates have prompted the Army to require all service members to attend such classes. (Getty Images/Chris Hondros)

Nearly a decade after the United States went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq, the suicide rate among soldiers and veterans — though lower than the civilian rate — is rising sharply, leading to criticism that military leaders aren't doing enough to help service members. President Barack Obama acknowledged the severity of the problem this year when he began sending condolence letters to families of service members who commit suicide while deployed in combat zones. Scrambling to address the problem — in uncoordinated fashion, researchers say — the military has determined possible causes for the rise in suicides, including multiple deployments that leave soldiers little time at home between combat tours. Yet suicides are also rising among service members who have never deployed. The Veterans Administration (VA) is under pressure from courts and lawmakers to step up mental-health treatment. VA officials say they are doing so, but politicians and veterans’ families remain unimpressed with the efforts.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
U.S. Military
Sep. 23, 2011  Military Suicides
Sep. 05, 2008  Rise in Counterinsurgency
Aug. 31, 2007  Wounded Veterans
Nov. 19, 2004  Treatment of Veterans
Jun. 25, 2004  Privatizing the Military
May 30, 2003  Reforming the Corps
Apr. 26, 1996  New Military Culture
Jun. 08, 1990  Downsizing America's Armed Forces
Jul. 20, 1966  American Forces in Europe
Jan. 15, 1964  American Troops Abroad
May 21, 1958  Military Reorganization
Feb. 28, 1952  Benefits for Korean Veterans
May 12, 1948  Militarization
Nov. 06, 1946  Veterans' Bonus
Jul. 17, 1946  War Veterans in Civil Life
Nov. 27, 1941  Government Aid to Ex-Service Men
Sep. 27, 1932  The Bonus After the 1932 Elections
Oct. 06, 1930  Veteran-Aid Policies of the United States
Jan. 07, 1924  Congress and the Bonus
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Mental Health