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Daily Mail, November 3, 2011

One U.S. veteran attempts suicide every 80 minutes: Hidden tragedy of Afghanistan and Iraq wars

According to Department of Defense statistics, there were 309 suicides among active-duty and reserve troops in the military in 2009, compared with 160 in 2001

One U.S. veteran of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan attempts suicide every 80 minutes, according to new study.

In a staggering indictment on the lack of mental health programmes in the U.S. military, the report reveals 1,868 veterans made suicide attempts in 2009 alone.

Many veterans face dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, high employment and a loss of military camaraderie after returning from tours.

Dr Margaret C. Harrell and Nancy Berglass, who authored the Center for a New American Security Suicide report, said: 'America is losing its battle against suicide by veterans and service members.

'And as more troops return from deployment, the risk will only grow.'

But it is not just returning servicemen and women who are suffering. From 2005 to 2010, approximately one current service member attempted suicide every 36 hours, the study revealed.

Service personnel leaving the U.S. military are having to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder, high unemployment and a loss of camaraderie while they were serving
Lack of support: Service personnel leaving the U.S. military are having to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder, high unemployment and a loss of camaraderie while they were serving (Photo: File Picture)

Marine Corps veteran Jason Christiansen, 35, from St. Paul, Minnesota, attempted to kill himself after completing his service. He lost his job as a car salesman in 2008 and became depressed, according to Minnesota.publicradio.org.

He told the site: 'At one point, I was sitting there with a gun in my mouth.'

The Veterans Crisis Line, launched in 2007, has received more than 400,000 calls and saved more than 14,000 lives according to the Veterans Affairs mental health website.

The report says three areas need to be tackled to help prevent further service members from killing themselves.

These include keeping units together for 90 days after returning from a deployment to prevent service people struggling with reintegration; rescinding the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act which prevents officers from discussing the weapons privately owned by service personnel and improving the analysis of veteran suicides.

It goes on to suggest that the growing number of suicides and attempted suicides could undercut public confidence in the U.S. military.

According to Department of Defense statistics, there were 309 suicides among active-duty and reserve troops in the military in 2009, compared with 160 in 2001.

There was a record high number of suicides in July this year - with the deaths of 33 service members categorised as suicides, the report said.

It said: 'The military must take care of its own. Although a goal of no suicides may be unachievable, the increasing number of suicides is unacceptable.

'There is a national shortage of mental health care and behavioral health care professionals, a factor linked to higher rates of suicide.'

Category: US-NATO, Healthcare/Environment - Views: 5771


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