There has been an increase in suicides of military personnel in recent years. It has become quite a major issue. In fact, more veterans die from suicide than combat. Some statistics say that it is at least 22 per day who have taken their own lives and the number could in fact be even higher than that. The big question is, why is this happening? The most frequently attributed explanation to the problem is posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD for short.  The condition has actually been known by several names at various times, “shell shock” was another common name it used to go by. Earlier this year the actor Patrick Stewart has described his father’s struggle with it as a veteran and how it lead him to be a abusive; in that case it manifested itself as a problem to his family and was made worse by the fact that no one believed it. These veterans are not getting the help they need. They come back and are so often ignored. The root of the problem though is that we have been sending them so many places and even over deploying them. In fact, sending them to wars that we should never have gotten involved in in the first place is where it really starts.
However, PTSD may not be the only issue. For one thing, not all suicides were from combat experience. There are a number of factors to consider such as age. Most of the military suicides are under the age of 30 and that age range has a higher level of suicide in general. Couple this with the fact that life in the military is stressful even without being involved in active combat and you have yourself some real problems if not dealt with properly. There are so many factors to consider that it could complicate the issue. The best solution, however, would be to reduce the likelihood that they would be put in such a situation to begin with. Preventing the tendency toward suicide starts with preventing the underlying issue and that is the real key.
The overall point is that these veterans have been badly neglected and need psychological attention when the signs start to manifest. Part of the problem is an issue of social stigma for the soldier, as seeking help can be seen as a sign of weakness to their peers. While the military has been trying to change this attitude, old habits die hard. The culture needs to change to a more caring and understanding environment. The civilian and military culture needs to become more understanding. It’s not an issue that can necessarily be solved easily but when all the factors are considered it may help to find a way to reduce this horrible trend. This trend also reflects yet another negative effect of our foreign interventions. Our military does serve a necessary purpose for defense, but the wars of the past few decades have gone beyond defense. So perhaps, if we weren’t so involved in foreign wars, we wouldn’t have quite the suicide epidemic that we have now. We should have less intervention overseas and more compassion for those at home who need it the most.
2. Basu, Moni. “Why suicide rate among veterans may be more than 22 a day.” Cnn.com. CNN, 21 Sep. 2013. Web. <http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/21/us/22-veteran-suicides-a-day/index.html>.
3. MacEgan, Matthew. “Marked Increase in US Military Suicides.” Globalresearch.ca. Global Research, 9 Aug. 2013. Web. <http://www.globalresearch.ca/marked-increase-in-us-military-suicides/5345552>.
4. TheBritishLegions. “Patrick Stewart – Who Do You Think You Are.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 31 May 2013. Web.
5. Skye, Heather. “Patrick Stewart Gives Passionate Response to Question At Comicpalooza 2013.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 29, May 2013. Web.
6. Banks, James. “3 Facts That Prove Military Suicides Are Not Only About PTSD.” Policymic.com. Policymic, Feb. 2013. Web.