Fort Drum— Recent reports showed that there were 349 suicides in 2012, expanding the Pentagon’s own projection for rates to exceed 325. The rising number of military suicides has some congress officials alarmed. This Monday, Senator Patty Murray voiced her concerns, “This is an epidemic that cannot be ignored.”
Medical Director and Psychiatrist for the American Foundation For Suicide Prevention , Dr. Paula Clayton told ABC50 that, “Unless there is significant change, the number of military suicides will continue to rise.” Dr. Clayton went on to explain how standards have lowered for those who are being accepted into the military. Individuals with mental illness and substance abuse problems are being allowed to join the military.
According to Dr. Clayton, more deployed soldiers come home with physical or mental injuries than the rate of deaths in either Iraq or Afghanistan. Addiction to prescription drugs is more prevalent now as well as the rate of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). “We have more TBI cases now than ever before because of the type of war we are fighting”, said Dr. Clayton. She went on to express that heavy use of IED’s (Improvised Explosive Devise) or otherwise known as roadside bombs, which are the major cause for the high rate of TBI in veterans.
“Soldiers with TBI have a higher rate of depression. But, anyone returning with PTSD, TBI will suffer from some sort of depression and will increase the probability that suicide will occur”, said Dr. Clayton. According to Dr. Clayton’s professional experience, most soldiers kill themselves with personal guns than with any sort of military issued weapon.
“I don’t believe that decreasing forces in Afghanistan is the answer. It will not prevent the problem. Many of these soldiers return home unemployed after getting out of service, which increases depression”, explained Dr. Clayton.
Approximately 90% of soldiers that kill themselves actually have a mental disorder such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD.
Dr. Clayton advised family members on what to be aware of when dealing with a soldier returning from a deployment.
· Excessive drinking
· Not sleeping
· Not Eating well
· Using illegal drugs
· Addiction to prescription drugs
· Social Withdrawal
· Moodiness or Mood swings: from anger to sadness or happiness
Concerned family members should call the VA hotline if they have any problems or concerns.
2012 Suicide Facts:
· Army highest number of suicides- 182
· Air Force- 59, up from the previous year at 16%
· Navy- 60, up from the previous year at 15%
· Marines- 48, up from the previous year at 50% increase