Martin C. Evans

With Army Suicides Up In January, Pentagon Promises Laser Focus

In Uncategorized on February 17, 2010 at 3:56 pm

The number of suicides among Army personnel continued its troubling rise in January, despite Pentagon efforts to identify and treat troubled soldiers.

There were 27 potential suicides in the Army’s active duty and reserve components last month, up from 17 in December, according to the Army’s Suicide Prevention Task Force director.

Col. Christopher Philbrick, the task force director, said the Army had boosted its attention on suicide prevention last year. He said the Army will now examine what has worked and fix what has not.

“In the new year, we won’t just maintain our current focus on suicide prevention, we’re going to sharpen that focus,” Philbrick said.

Army leaders are trying to change a military culture that often brands soldiers who seek psychological help as whiners rather than winners.

With the United States headed toward it’s ninth consecutive year of war, its all-volunteer force increasingly serves multiple combat tours, exposing soldiers to high levels of psychological stress. According to a Rand Corporation report, as many as one in five veterans of combat in Iraq or Afghanistan have post traumatic stress disorder.

‘…over the last year, you could describe our Army effort as shining a flood light on the problem of suicide,” Philbrick said. “Now in 2010, we’re going to move from a flood light to a laser light.”

  1. This is very sad, very troubling and very unfortunate. It is not the first time I’ve read about this situation. These troops are serving too many tours with too little psychological help…

    How very sad to think they believe their only way out is suicide.
    Our troops deserve better than that….

  2. I’ll believe it when I see it. The Army has always frowned upon soldiers looking for psychological help, leaving those who do feeling stigmatized. Hopefully things will change, and our men and women who have given so much to this nation will get ALL the help they need and deserve.

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