The number of soldiers committing suicide skyrocketed, what did the US do wrong?

The number of suicides by US service members on active duty in the second quarter of this year increased by 46 percent compared with the same period last year, the Pentagon said. This number makes US defense officials bewildered, not understanding what is behind the problem.

The rate of US soldiers committing suicide skyrocketed in the second quarter of this year (photo: Sputnik)
The rate of US soldiers committing suicide skyrocketed in the second quarter of this year (photo: Sputnik)

According to a report by the US Department of Defense, in the second quarter of this year, 60 US soldiers took their own lives, up from 41 in the same period last year.

The Cost of War Project - a research project on the consequences of war conducted by Brown University and Boston University (USA) - said that since the September 11 terrorist attacks, 30,177 US service members and veterans have died as a result of the terrorist attack. Suicide. This is more than four times the number of US troops lost to fighting terrorism.

“Being a soldier is a high-stress profession. Many soldiers choose to use alcohol and stimulants to relieve pressure if they do not want to suffer from depression. However, abuse of these things increases the risk of suicide," said Arash Javanbakht, a professor of psychiatry at Wayne State University (USA).

Mark Kaplan, a sociology professor at UCLA Luskin School of Public Schools, said the US is making the mistake of treating the soldier suicide issue as a "mental health crisis".

“Many active-duty soldiers kill themselves without any mental illness. Many other aspects have been overlooked by the authorities, such as the use of guns. American soldiers and veterans often commit suicide with a gun. Military personnel are the most accessible group of people with guns. I think we should think about restricting soldiers' access to guns outside of training hours," said Mark Kaplan.

Dave Barbush - President of Once a Soldier (a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families of US veterans commit suicide) - said that the US has failed greatly in curbing soldier suicides.

“The government is not doing enough and is not really willing to support the psychological problems that American soldiers are facing. What we're doing is just trying to fill in the gaps that the government leaves in taking care of our military, veterans. Housing, jobs, food, welfare… they need more things,” commented Ms. Barbush.

The US has downplayed the issue of soldiers committing suicide, according to experts (photo: Sputnik)
The US has downplayed the issue of soldiers committing suicide, according to experts (photo: Sputnik)

According to experts, US soldiers often tend to keep quiet about mental health issues for fear of being stigmatized.

“Many people worry about being stigmatized when it comes to mental health. Especially when you are serving in the military. When they talk about the difficulties in the military environment, they are afraid of being judged by friends and family as weak or cowardly," added Barbush.

American soldiers returning from war zones often have to deal with psychological problems on their own. The Veterans Administration (VA) is a US government organization created to help veterans returning from the battlefield. However, many people believe that the VA did not do well enough when it missed many cases.

“I am deeply concerned about the suicides of soldiers. A suicide loss is too much for the military. We must work to solve this problem. We have a lot of work to do," Lloyd Austin - US Defense Secretary - told a news conference at Eielson Air Force Base (Alaska).

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