Military Suicides

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

While only 1 percent of Americans have served in Iraq and Afghanistan—they account for 20 percent of U.S. suicides; an active duty soldier commits suicide every day on average, about as many as are dying on the battlefield. Mark Thompson, Time Deputy Washington Bureau Chief, and Nancy Gibbs, Time Deputy Managing Editor, discuss the situation, which they call the military's "ultimate asymmetrical war," and one it is losing.  Thompson and Gibbs spoke with two widows of soldiers who killed themselves a continent apart on the same day—March 21, 2012. The army had clear warning signs that these men were at risk. Their article “The War on Suicide” appears in the July 23 issue of Time.



Nancy Gibbs and Mark Thompson

Comments [25]


I would like to share 3 healing modalities that are most effective with PTSD - Neurofeedback (see EEG research with veterans, Pranic Healing, and Kundalini Yoga.

Aug. 11 2012 01:09 PM
Harlan Barnhart from Brooklyn

Maybe people weren't made to kill.

Jul. 20 2012 08:13 PM

Militaries have always been meat grinders wrt grunts. I'm surprised suicide rates aren't higher.

Jul. 17 2012 10:05 PM
tom LI

Leonard asks; "why can't the soldier bond with their family like they do their former soldiers...?"

Really Leonard? was that a Q from one of the naive staff? Or you?

That it was asked shows the HUGE disconnect between the civilian and the soldier. That alone could be a subject of a show.

Jul. 17 2012 06:20 PM
Pat from NJ

Vets4Warriors is a peer to peer 24 hour support line funded by the DOD through the National Guard for current and former service members who want/need some additional support. No service member should ever feel alone. The program is staffed by former and current service members. It is available by phone 1-855-VET-TALK (1-855-838-8255) and online chat at

Jul. 17 2012 02:53 PM

rose-ellen from Jackson Hts: I agree with you. Let most of the sheeple in this country (on both the left and the right) believe the nonsense of the Wars on "Terror." They "hate" us for our "freedoms."

Jul. 17 2012 01:37 PM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Whenever I see a post by "rose-ellen from Jackson Hts.", it is time to cue the theme from "The Twilight Zone".

Jul. 17 2012 01:05 PM
Steve from Manhattan

Mark Thompson said we haven't made advance in mental illness as we have in cancer. He doesn't know what he's talking about. In fact, we understand more about the major mental illnesses and have better treatments for them than for most forms of cancer or many other illness.
The problem is that we don't wish to commit necessary resources to the treatment of mental illness. The Veterans Administration healthcare system has noted its shortage of psychiatrists but doesn't explain why it pays psychiatrists far less than it does surgeons.

Jul. 17 2012 12:49 PM
sandra from bronx

EVERYONE is at risk for depression--so it THAT were to be the screening device for not sending soldiers to war then no one would go--maybe that is the ultimate solution!!!

Jul. 17 2012 12:41 PM
Someone in NYC from NYC

I have PTSD (though not a military case). It's truly awful and leads to many terrible consequences. I totally understand the desire for the crazy feelings to STOP, which leads to substance abuse, violence, and, ultimately self-murder. The therapy is very, very difficult but so worthwhile, for those who can tolerate it.

It's an absolute tragedy that inadequate resources are being devoted to this.

Jul. 17 2012 12:41 PM

I have to add to my earlier post that I was diagnosed with PTSD when it was a new acronym. TAT has really worked for me - can use it any time or with a professional. Great for life in general anyway as well.

Jul. 17 2012 12:40 PM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

Obviously the numbers are skewed towards males, but are there any stats that indicate differences in suicides between male & female service members?

Jul. 17 2012 12:39 PM
Laura Jaffe from Brooklyn

We train our soldiers to fight for several weeks, sometimes months and even years to participate in the armed forces. Then when we send them back to their "lives" we say "see ya" and hope for the best. We need basic decompression training for all soldiers period--so there is no subjectivity or stigma--it is required training. It continues with the enormous investment already given. No soldier would ever be allowed to be participate without basic training: why do we continue to allow these now-trained soldiers to participate in lives after.

Socialization is more highly valued in this generation than any other, and they are under more light of inspection from more people than ever.

Jul. 17 2012 12:37 PM
Leo from Queens

I'm glad that one of your guests finally mentioned the possible role of all the medications and drugs that soldiers are given that are poorly tested and where there are no studies when you give someone most of these drugs all at once which might be impacting their Psyche.

Jul. 17 2012 12:37 PM
A listener in Manhattan

As someone who has suffered from PTSD from causes not related to warfare, I have found yoga and meditation (in conjunction with therapy) are the most effective ways to heal from trauma. Has the military tried to use alternative methods to treat soldiers?

Jul. 17 2012 12:34 PM
rose-ellen from Jackson Hts.

Ptsd- a euphymism for anger at the fact that they didn't have a green light to "turn the place into a parking lot"-in iraq or afghanistan.They joined with visions of genocide dancing in their heads after 9-11.This was part of the media/governenment propaganda campaign building up to war.Though never stated explicitly-it was implied.The totalizing good vs. evil narrative made these eager recruits believe they were in a star war movies- good vs. evil and suddenly they found meaning to their lives. After they killed many people but did not have a green light to kill " em all"-they come home and see muslims in full muslim garb walking down the american street. They know if they lay a hand on one-they'll be arrested for a hate crime. They feel they were manipulated by their government as a billion muslims are still there-including iraqis and afghans. They realize they were duped with joining the military and deluded with "heroic" fantasies of "turning the place into a parking lot". Hence they're angry ,hence "PTSD"-victims of spoon fed media/government propaganda now angry that their pumped up hatred of the "enemy" did not result in genocide -the promise made to their heart after 9-11!

Jul. 17 2012 12:32 PM
Nick from UWS

These yakking people are as usual dancing around the central reason for these suicides, which is that war irrevocably violates the core human values of any reasonably emotionally healthy human being.

Jul. 17 2012 12:29 PM
sandra from bronx

It seems that there has to be some routine type of decompression & acclimatization program to get soldiers back into the "real world" in the same way that divers are slowly raised from the depths of the oceans. Are there such programs in place?

(Even though I was not in a war I felt the same feelings of alienation & detachment coming home after being overseas in 3rd world countries. No one could identify with my experiences and I felt like a stranger in my own country!

Also, consider the case of Meriwether Lewis who killed himself after returned from his epic journey to The Pacific.
His whole world was turned upside down. He most likely felt such a huge letdown and could not relate. This depression is seen in so many people who have been at the highest pinnacles and then return to Earth.)

Jul. 17 2012 12:27 PM
Nick from UWS

Gee, I wonder why a bunch of naive kids, sucked into the military-industrial complex by a bunch of jingoistic BS and a lying sociopathic government, and then forced to violate their own core moral values as human beings in the service of lies, brutality and corporate imperialism, and then returning to a homeland whose government doesn't give a shit about them and never why would they commit suicide?

Jul. 17 2012 12:24 PM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

The stress in the military is quite extraordinary.

Some 15 years ago, my sister retired from the Air Force after she failed to be promoted to Lt. Colonel. Thank God she didn't make the promotion. The man that got the promotion dropped dead from a heart attack a year later.

Post 9-11, things could only be worse.

Jul. 17 2012 12:24 PM
Fr Kevin PJ Coffey from Fair Lawn, NJ

I am appalled that Ms Gibbs talks about "successful" suicides.
There are no successful suicides! Someone may attempt suicide. Someone may complete a suicide. But successful? Hardly!
Fr Kevin+

Jul. 17 2012 12:21 PM
phyllis segura

Listening to suicide in military conversation. I think that this entire conversation is barking up the wrong tree. War is not a natural state and people who engage in it become ultimately depressed by it. Also, the disciple factor which gives a sense of a purpose of life because the time is filled and feels to have purpose. The military in this particular war have been committing suicide since the beginning. Some of it is from what they have seen and witnessed. Why are you not discussing that?

Jul. 17 2012 12:18 PM
fuva from harlemworld

Interesting related article:

Jul. 17 2012 12:17 PM

Please, guests, check out the work of CA acupuncturist Tapas Fleming, who has come up with a simple simple way to treat all trauma, incl. PTSD - SIMPLE! Her website is - recently NIH/Kaiser Permanente studied one aspect of what she calls Tapas Acupressure Technique. I urge you. She actually has a 2-part recorded webinar entitled Combat Stress Relief and available as a stream online. It costs very very little.

Jul. 17 2012 12:17 PM
Laura from Manhattan

Perhaps if we don't have the resources to treat soldiers who are experiencing severe depression and anxiety we shouldn't be sending so many people off to fight in wars.

Jul. 17 2012 12:16 PM

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