US Army suicides up 80% since start of Iraq War

Suicide among young Army personnel rose 80% between 2004 and 2008, with 255 soldiers taking their lives in 2007 and 2008 alone.

, Global Post, March 8, 2012

US Military suicide rates over the years of the Iraq war

Suicide among young Army personnel rose 80% between 2004 and 2008, according to the Los Angeles Times. In the last two years that had data available for the study — 2007 and 2008 — 255 soldiers took their lives. The authors of the study, the Army Public Health Command (APHC), estimated that 25% to 50% of the suicides were directly related to combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Suicide rates among active US Army personnel were decreasing between 1977 and 2003.

The number of suicides is “unprecedented in over 30 years of US Army records,” according to the APHC, and the increase in deaths parallels the increasing rates of depression and other mental health conditions among soldiers, reported The Daily Mail.

The study’s authors called the high presence of mental health disorders among enlisted personnel “sentinels for suicide risk,” according to The Baltimore Sun. From 2000 to 2008, adjustment disorders, mood disorders, anxiety disorders and substance-abuse disorders have soared among Army personnel. During the same time, the number of visits for mental health disorders in the Army nearly doubled.

“This study does not show that US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan cause suicide,” said Dr. Michelle Chervak, one of the study’s authors, a senior epidemiologist at the APHC, to ABC News. “This study does suggest that an Army engaged in prolonged combat operations is a population under stress, and that mental health conditions and suicide can be expected to increase under these circumstances.”

Why Was No One Punished for America’s “My Lai” in Iraq?

[Imperialist wars and occupations always operate with absolute impunity for the war crimes committed against civilian victims.  Imperialist wars attempt to win allies and supporters by concealing their imperialist interests behind banners of “democracy” or “human rights” or “freedom” for the targets of their aggression.  For this reason, when war crimes are brought to light through determined exposures, there are some who campaign that the occupiers be held to standards of “human rights.”  But imperialist war criminals are never brought to justice, despite heroic and determined efforts and sacrifices of such campaigners and activists.  But, in time, the people will take matters into their own hands and find the ways to  bring justice to the war criminals of imperialist wars and occupations.   — Frontlines ed.]
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The U.S. military presence in Iraq was marked by the callous American attitude toward civilians, and the thorough lack of accountability in the military justice system.
February 12, 2012

The plea bargain in the last Haditha massacre case handed down in January is a fitting end to the Iraq war. In the most notorious case of U.S. culpability in Iraqi civilian deaths, no one will pay a price. And that is emblematic of the entire war and its hundreds of thousands of dead and millions displaced.Sergeant Frank Wuterich, the squad leader who encouraged and led his marines to kill 24 civilians in the Iraqi town of Haditha in November 2005, was the last of eight originally charged in the massacre. The others were let off on technicalities, or to help the prosecution. One officer, not involved in the killing but the coverup, was acquitted in a military trial.

The responsibility for these killings came down to Wuterich’s role, but he never actually went through a full trial. The military prosecutor opted for the slap-on-the-wrist of demotion to private for the 24 civilian deaths. Wuterich, who admitted to much more in a “60 Minutes” interview in 2007—including rolling grenades into a house filled with civilians without attempting to make an identification—copped only to “dereliction of duty.”

The episode was often compared with the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, in which some 400 civilians were executed by Lieutenant William Calley and some of his army unit in 1967. While the scale and circumstances are quite different, they do bear one striking similarity, and that is the reaction of officials and the American public alike. Continue reading