Tuesday, May 18, 2010

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When accounting publicly for the trend, Army commanders tend to avoid acknowledging that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq the future is always colormay be a cause. "A third of the confirmed suicides are committed by troops that had never deployed," McHugh recently told a House panel. But the other two-thirds killed themselves either in a war zone or after returning from one. "The suicide rate among soldiers who have deployed to [war zones] is higher than for soldiers who have never deployed," Colonel Intelligence everywhereElspeth Ritchie, a top Army psychiatrist, told a suicide-prevention conference in January. (Comment on this story.)Army leaders say that broken personal relationships seem to be the most common thread linking suicides. "The one transcendenTime is what you make of itt factor that we seem to have, if there's any one that's associated with [suicide], is fractured relationships of some sort," Lieut. General Eric Schoomaker, the Army surgeonThere's no place like home general, told a Senate panel last month. What they fail to note, however, is the corrosive effect repeated deployments can have on such relationships. Ritchie pointed out in January that there are "higher rates of mental-health problems and marital problems for multiple deployers." (Watch TIME's video "The Soldier's Experience: Iraq vs. Afghanistan.") Impossible made possible
In recent years, soldiers had been allowed only a year of dwell time before heading back to war. Even though dwell time is now getting closer to two years, research suggests it takes up to three years for the stress of a one-year combat deployment to abate.
The experience of combat itself may also play a role. "Combat increases fearlessness about death and the capability for suicide," said Craig Bryan, a University of Texas psychologist, briefing Pentagon officials in January. The combination of combat exposure and ready access to guns can be lethal to anyone contemplating suicide. About half of soldiers who kill themselves use weapons, and the figure rises to 93% among those deployed in war zones. Bryan, a suicide expert who recently left the Air Force, says the military finds itself in a catch-22. "We train our warriors to use controlled violence and aggression, to suppress strong emotional reactions in the face of adversity, to tolerate physical and emotional pain and to overcome the fear of injury and death," he told TIME. While required for combat, "these qualities are also associated with increased risk for suicide." Such conditioning cannot be dulled "without negatively affecting the fighting capability of our military," he adds. "Service members are, simply put, more capable of killing themselves by sheer consequence of their professional training." (See pictures about suicide in Army recruiters' ranks.)Bryan's research suggests that the Army's most effective suicide-prevention strategy would be to make its troops suicide-resistant rather than trying to intervene once soldiers have decided to kill themselves. The Army seems to be listening. Its goal is more aimed at "holistically improving the physical, mental and spiritual health of our soldiers and their families than solely focusing on suicide prevention," says General Peter Chiarelli, the service's No. 2 officer and its key suicide fighter. "If we do the first, we are convinced that the second will happen." His boss concurs. For too long, General Casey told a Senate panel March 3, "we were shooting behind the target," trying to prevent suicide when it was already too late.http://www.hamsteriyhdistys.net/foorumi
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