On going wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have contributed to a record increase in the number of suicide among US soldiers, now at its peak level since the first Gulf War. The figures are highest since 1990-91, when the US army reported 102 suicide during that Gulf War.
Now according to the statement issued by US army, it is confirmed that 99 suicides in 2006, compared to 87 such deaths in 2005. The figure for 2006 does not include two deaths being investigated as possible suicide. Last year’s suicides amount to a rate of 17.3 per 100,000 army service members. About 30 percent of those suicides were of soldiers deployed to war zones.
Of the confirmed suicides last year, 25 were soldiers deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan wars, which amount to 10 percent of the 64 suicides by army soldiers in Iraq since the conflict began in March 2003. When suicide among the soldiers spiked in the summer of 2003, the army put together a mental health assessment team that met with troops. Investigators found the main factors for the suicides include failed personal relationships, legal and financial problems and the stress of their jobs. Staying away on military duty for long periods strain relations and often lead to a split.
The suicide rate for US army has varied over the past 25 years, from a high of 15.8 per 100,000 in 1985 to a low of 9.1 per 100,000 in 2001. Last year it was nearly 13 per 100,000. The US army recorded 90 suicides in 1993 with a suicide rate of 14.2 per 100,000. Another fact is that as the rate of US soldiers who commit suicide is increasing, the rate for US civilians who commit suicide is also increasing according to the National Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
Though the US army has increased the number of mental health professionals and placed combat stress teams with units, but the rate of suicide is on the rise. Perhaps they need to look more deeply to find the root cause of these suicides.