February 13, 2009 – The Times Union has reported (Jan. 30 and Feb. 6) that Army suicides are at a record level. In 2008, approximately 143 soldiers killed themselves, an increase of almost 25 percent over the previous year. The annual number has gone up every year since 2004.
In January, more soldiers took their lives than were killed in combat. The long and repeated tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan have undoubtedly contributed to this statistic. The figure brings out the hidden tragedies of wars.
What the articles fail to report is the number of such deaths among veterans of the wars who are no longer in military service. I wonder how many killed themselves because of war-related issues?
Many veterans’ suicides can be attributed to stresses caused by the war such as PTSD, broken relationships and loss of jobs. The economic free fall may contribute to a feeling of helplessness. With an increasing number of returning soldiers, we can expect an increase in suicides.
Let’s end these wars. Let’s provide hope and help to those still fighting and to the veterans who need it.