Nukewatch Quarterly 2021-2022
A September Pentagon report shows a 41% increase in suicides among active-duty troops from 2015 to 2020, and suicides among US Army’s active-duty forces jumped 46% in the second quarter of 2021, compared to the same period last year. On the heels of this news, a military inspector general’s report released November 12 found that US troops are not regularly screened for suicide risk as they leave active-duty. “Furthermore, the [military] may not arrange for continuing mental health care for thousands of transitioning service members with existing mental health conditions,” the IG said.
30,000 since 9/11, four times total combat deaths
The grim active-duty suicide reports only hint at the overall suicide rate including veterans. The larger picture was presented June 21 in a report by the Costs of War Project at Brown University. The study, “High Suicide Rates among United States Service Members and Veterans of the Post-9/11 Wars,” found a staggering 30,177 active-duty personnel and veterans who served in the military since 9/11 have died by suicide — four times the 7,057 killed in military occupations and warzones over the same period. Yet, even this jaw-dropping number is a fraction of the whole.
“In total, there were 89,100 confirmed US veteran suicides between 2005 [when the Pentagon began tracking suicide rates] and 2018, including veterans of the Global War on Terror and also previous wars such as the Vietnam War,” wrote author Thomas Suitt.
Suitt found that “continued access to guns” as well as “the rise of improvised explosive devices, the attendant rise in traumatic brain injuries, the war’s protracted length, advances in medical treatment that keep service members in the military longer, and the American public’s disinterest in the post-9/11 wars, have greatly contributed to increased suicide rates.”
“Even the very conservative estimate that I came up with, it’s horrifying,” said Suitt in an interview with NPR. Every suicide among military service members should stand as a criminal indictment of a government that sends its men and women into endless, undeclared, unwinnable wars around the world.
— If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (En Español: 1-888-628-9454; Deaf and Hard of Hearing: 1-800-799-4889) or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.