Suicide Rate Increases for U.S. Army Personnel Deployed in Iraq
December 20, 2006
By Kevin Caruso
The suicide rate for U.S. army personnel deployed in Iraq has increased to 19.9 out of 100,000, indicated army surgeon general, Lt.-Gen. Kevin Kiley.
The data is from the Mental Health Advisory Team Report, which was released on Tuesday, December 19, 2006. The survey was conducted in October and November of 2005, but the Army needed more than a year to analyze the data. The survey contains the most recent available Army suicide data.
The report stated that 22 army soldiers died by suicide in Iraq in 2005; 12 in 2004; and 25 in 2003.
“We consider one suicide to be too many,” Kiley said after releasing the report.
The suicide rate for army personnel not deployed in Iraq is 13 out of 100,000. And the national suicide rate for all U.S. citizens is 10.8 out of 100,000.
“The Army is trying to develop better ways to identify people at risk for suicide,” said Kiley. "But most suicides occurred on impulse and could have been related to relationship problems or financial stress, as opposed to combat stress.”
“The Army is concerned that soldiers on their second or third tours in Iraq might be at an increased risk for post-traumatic stress disorder, but we have not found any link between multiple tours and suicide rates,” he added.
Additional findings in the report include:
Troops involved in training Iraqi security forces reported higher morale than those serving on combat teams, partly because they felt their work was part of the solution in Iraq.
95 percent of troops reported that mental health care is readily available to them.
The number of those who felt that seeking help was a sign of weakness declined to 28 percent from 35 percent.
13.6 percent of soldiers reported acute stress symptoms such as nightmares or reliving an incident, and 16.5 percent reported a combination of depression, anxiety and acute stress. That is in keeping with other studies showing some 30 percent of troops report high stress.
Troops sent a second time to Iraq reported greater stress rates than first-timers. Some 12 percent serving their initial deployment reported acute stress, compared to 18.4 percent of those serving a repeat deployment.
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