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Suicide soars among US soldiers: 141 suicides since January!

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As the US government throws its weight about the globe, hundreds of thousands of men, women and children fall before Uncle Sam’s swinging scythe.But, those at the cutting edge of the scythe are falling too, often by their own hands, in the inescapable confines of their homes or quarters in the barracks back on the US soil.

In 2008, 143 soldiers committed suicide, the highest number in the three decades that the army has kept records, reports Washington Post.

But, with months still to go till the new year and 141 suicides since January, that figure has almost been reached, with no sign of a slow-down in self-destructive drives of the US soldiers.

The US military, thus, faces a difficult challenge.

“The most frustrating thing is trying to find a cause,” Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, the army’s vice chief of staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on July 30.

One of the things that baffle the military’s top brass is that the suicide rate among reservists is also on the rise. Last year, the US Army tallied 79 confirmed active-duty and 32 reservist suicides amid the sixth year of the US-led war in Iraq and increased fighting in Afghanistan, where troops have fought since 2001, reports the Houston Chronicle.

Although mostly not involved in direct fighting, female soldiers are not immune to increased suicidal tendencies. Four out of the 141 ’successful’ suicides this year have been by women troopers.

Nevertheless, increased durations and frequencies of tours of fighting, first in Iraq and now in Afghanistan, against a resurgent and determined Taliban are all reported to contribute to the increased stress, with the all-too-frequent killings of civilians leading to feelings of guilt and self-disgust among the troops.

Thirty-five percent of suicides are among those who have returned from fighting.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, has told the Express-News there must be a link between more frequent deployments and higher suicide rates.

With US President Barack Obama committing his country’s youth to the continued occupation of Afghanistan, it seems that even more soldiers who make it back alive will fall victims to their own trigger fingers.

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