Saturday, May 14, 2016

Speaking of suicide, several people sent me this petition to sign to help US military veterans who have a suicide rate of 22 per day. 22 per day? Is that right? That's incredible. The figure comes from a study conducted by the US Department of Veterans Affairs.  

Kathleen Collins has invited you to sign the petition:

“Approximately 22 veterans die from suicide each day. Join me in calling on Congress to get our troops access to better mental health care.”

Sign the Petition to US Congress

Our troops and veterans aren't getting the immediate access to the mental health care they deserve. But with Congress' help, our nation's heroes can get on the right track toward healing and hope!
Sign the Petition
or Read more about the petition
Rick Shaddock and 28,897 others signed the petition 

I signed it. It's terrible when anyone commits suicide. We're all dying. Nature is going to finish us off, and she doesn't need help.

I don't know the comparable figure for current military personnel, but I do know that it's much higher than the suicide rate of the general population.

And then I found this from an activist site, that even among active duty soldiers, the suicide rate is very high. It claims that 5x as many soldiers died from suicide than from combat in 2014:

Last week, the Department of Defense (DoD) released its 2014 calendar year Suicide Event Report (DoDSER), which details the number of suicide attempts and deaths for U.S. service members.
The numbers are startling.
In all of 2014, a total of 55 US troops, in both hostile and non-hostile situations, lost their lives in foreign occupations. The number of soldiers who killed themselves is nearly 5 times that amount.
According to the DoD report, in 2014, there were 269 deaths by suicide among active component service members (compared to 259 deaths by suicide in 2013).
Basically, that works out to 3 suicides every 4 days. As compared to 22 every single day among veterans?????  That still seems incredible to me that it could be that high among veterans.

But, why are there so many? Why do so many want to die?

There is a ton being written about this: the PTSD, the depressing effect of disabilities, the high rate of alcoholism and drug addiction among vets, high unemployment among vets, etc.

But, I can think of another one: the last time that US soldiers fought a morally unambiguous war was World War 2. And of course, there was still all the strain and pain and horrors of war. I mentioned having read a biography of JD Salinger, who during World War 2 was an intelligence officer. But, he was still in a combat unit, and he saw a lot of combat. He very easily could have gotten killed, and he saw a lot of his friends die. And he suffered traumatic stress. He ended up spending almost a year in a mental hospital towards the end of the war. And, I have no doubt that the horrors of war affected him for the rest of his life- and greatly influenced his writing.

But, even though it's obvious from his writing that he hated war and considered it a living nightmare, I don't think he ever doubted that in fighting the Nazis that he was on the right side and that it needed to be done. But, imagine if he had such doubt to deal with in addition to everything else.

But, there aren't too many World War II veterans left, and I doubt they are the ones committing suicide in droves.

The culture of the military is very unnatural, and it's because humans, by nature, want to be, and expect to be, free agents. They want to make their own decisions. On a regular job, you may have a boss who orders you to do things, but that has limits, and it's not like you're his slave. But, in the military, yes, you pretty much are a slave. I think in a great many ways it is comparable to slavery. Put it this way: there is a heck of a lot of AUTHORITY involved.

So, how do you endure that? How do you get used to it? Well, it's got to help if you are certain that the cause you are fighting for is just, that you are fighting with and for the good guys. And I mean being 1000% certain of that. I think it's a comfort that US soldiers haven't had in many decades.


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