Friday, April 25, 2008

Suicide Rates and the Armed Forces

Last night I saw a news story that floored me and brought me to tears. The Department of Defense released a document stating that between 1995 and 2007, there were almost 2,200 suicides among active duty soliders. There were 188 last year alone. This is staggering!But, according to Dr. Ira Katz, head of mental health for the Department of Veterans Affairs, there is no suicide epidemic in the VA, although he does state that suicide is a major problem. When asked about suicide rates from active duty members and veterans combined, the percentage rate increased dramatically.

In 2005 there were at least 6,256 suicides among those who have served and are now serving in the armed forces. That's 120 each and every week, in just one year! There are also at least 1,000 suicide attempts per month. Currently the suicide rate for military personnel is 7% higher than the rest of the US population.Also, one age group stands out from the others and that is Veterans aged 20 through 24 who have served time during the war on terror. They had the highest suicide rate among all veterans, estimated between two and four times higher than civilians the same age.

To make matters worse, another veterans psychiatric unit was closed this week because of lack of funding. We owe it to the men and women who serve us to provide them with proper mental health care when they arrive home.I wrote a letter to the White House, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the governor of KY and my congressmen and representatives. I encourage everyone to do the same. If we can't stop this stupid war, then the least we can do is help the people who have been sent to war.

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