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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Army Under Fire for Suicide Rate

The army is under fire in a different way than usual as people have become more concerned with the rate of suicide. Suicides in the military are on the rise especially in the army; prescription drug use and alcoholism are also on the rise. According to USA Today an internal investigation released by Army officials Thursday found that army suicides can be "linked to an increasingly "permissive" environment in the service where soldiers take personal risks in their lives by using alcohol and drugs". It is believed that military officers are not doing enough to keep drug and alcohol use from happening which has led to many deaths. However there are many cases that can easily go undetected because prescription drugs are very easy to hide.

"The review commissioned last year by the No. 2 Army commander, Gen. Peter Chiarelli, says this "Army-wide problem" is linked to a tally of deaths last year that included 160 active-duty soldiers who committed suicide and 146 more who died during risky activity or behavior such as drug use. Seventy-four of those deaths were drug overdoses. There were also 1,713 attempted suicides last year". The report showed that mental health care is not very effective and substance abuse treatment can only be made available if a problem is reported, in many cases soldiers will not seek treatment. Post traumatic stress disorder is often lurking underneath addictions adding an additional element to the problem.

The internal review came back with some numbers that are staggering. The study showed the growing rate of both risk-taking behavior and psychological problems:
  • More than one-third of the Army is using prescription drugs, including 14% taking some form of narcotic pain-relief medication.
  • Prescription drugs were involved in about a third of all suicides.
  • There were 216,000 soldiers assessed or in therapy for behavioral health problems in 2009; another 109,000 used prescription drugs and more than 9,000 were hospitalized for mental health problems.
  • Commanders failed to complete paperwork in 36% of disciplinary cases, or in 78,410 cases, from 2004 to 2009, making it impossible to track those soldiers' misconduct in criminal databases.
  • Since fighting in Afghanistan started in 2001, 25,283 soldiers who had committed violations that would have resulted in them being discharged from the Army were allowed to remain in the service.
  • Thirty to 40% of drunken driving or failed urinalysis cases from 2001 to 2009 were never referred, as required, to the Army substance abuse counseling offices.
  • Many soldiers who failed drug tests repeatedly were never disciplined. The report says that an estimated 3,000 soldiers are expected to test positive for drugs for the second or third time next year.

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