WAY OFF THE MARK: Tennessee Newspaper Appears to Have Joined DoD in Military Suicide Propoganda

WAY OFF THE MARK: Tennessee Newspaper Appears to Have Joined DoD in Military Suicide Propoganda

No Easy Answers for Military Suicide
Deployments, combat, PTSD don’t explain majority of cases

by The Tennessean
July 14,2013

BLOGBACK: First point to be made here is that DoD and VA both are intentionally clumsy when it comes to tracking all matters related to the suicides and deaths associated with “high-risk” behavior, ie motorcycle racing, binge-drinking on prescribed medications (widely labled as accidents and excluded from suicide data). The claim is, “We just don’t know and we cannot conclude these deaths as suicides; and therefore these [under-reported] deaths [many hundreds per year] do not count against the rising suicide numbers.”

Now, to the point of TMSR headline at the top …

This publication likely has intentionally joined so many others by regurgitating in print a very cleverly-crafted DoD talking point –an absolutely ridiculous assertion — that has been successfully pushed forward through through a complicit, cooperative and cordial corporate media corps.

The mistake simply is this:

When one seeks to explain or mention military suicide rates against those civilian suicides in the same demographic, there continues to be a huge mistake in the count. It is an absolute falacy, a lie … but based in “truthiness,” as the wondeful Mr. Steven Colbert has many times said. To make the military-civilian demographic comparison hold up under serious analysis, one must take the civilian demographic and purge this group of all those completed suicides who would not have ever qualified for military service in the first place.

Let me say that again, maybe you did not hear me clearly …

To make the military-civilian demographic comparison hold up under serious analysis, one must take the civilian demographic and purge this group of all those completed suicides who would not have ever qualified for military service in the first place.

The current message on recruiting from DoD is that about two thirds of age-qualified prospective military applicants are not qualified for military service on medical, moral or mental grounds.

So for this newspaper — or any news organization for that fact — to look past this glaring “factoid” is a journalistic sin at best. Shameful and disgraceful in this writer’s best judgement. Try again Tennessean, and tell your friends.

CLARKSVILLE, TENN. — She was a well-liked, exemplary Fort Campbell soldier, a loving mother and wife on a clean, upward career trajectory in the Army that she loved. And she was the last person anyone thought was at risk for suicide.

Right up until the moment she plunged a knife into her own neck.

No one saw it coming – not family, friends, fellow soldiers, health professionals or police, or the Fort Campbell Army officer detailed to conduct the 15-6 Line of Duty investigation into her death.

Hers is one of 17 reports on such investigations recently obtained by Leaf-Chronicle news partner WSMV-Channel 4, Nashville, through Freedom of Information Act requests. The reports shed some much-needed light on a problem of great concern to the communities around Fort Campbell, especially since many military suicides, such as the case cited above, take place outside the post gates.

And the reports illustrate the difficulty of addressing the military suicide problem:

• Some victims were driven perfectionists and model soldiers. Some were anything but. Drugs and alcohol show up in some files and not at all in others. The same goes for financial problems.

• Some had not a hint of relationship issues, or criminal conduct or even minor misconduct, while others rode the razor’s edge of trouble all the way down the chute to oblivion.

• Some gave signs or cried out for help, but many did not, and in too many cases, victims were so good at hiding their problems and their pain that their deaths took those closest to them completely by surprise.

Perhaps surprisingly, none of the soldiers who committed suicide had a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder.

About the reports
Fifteen of the 17 reports available involved units of the 101st Airborne, which covers most of the nearly 30,000 soldiers at the post. Two cases occurred within the much-smaller 5th Special Forces Group. The available reports do not include soldiers who committed suicide while deployed.

Two cases involved women soldiers. The rest were men. That breakdown is close to the actual gender composition of the Army (15.7 percent women).

The reports – spanning a period from Jan. 10, 2011, to Oct. 24, 2012 – are from AR 15-6 investigations, written by Army officers assigned to determine whether a death, disease or injury occurred “in the line of duty” and not as a result of misconduct. That line-of-duty determination has a direct bearing on whether next of kin are eligible for death benefits.

An incomplete answerOne explanation for military suicides has been cited so often that it’s nearly carved in stone: The military is damaged by a dozen years of war, resulting in an epidemic of traumatic brain injuries and PTSD, causing increasing numbers of service members to commit suicide.

The explanation is partly true.

PTSD and TBI are real and massive problems in their own right, with consequences that behavioral health professionals say will be felt by society for a generation after the wars are done.

But according to military-wide figures, slightly more than half (53 percent) of all service members who commit suicide had never deployed.

Of those who had, many were never in combat zones. And of those in combat zones, many didn’t engage in direct combat with the enemy.

According to the Department of Defense Suicide Event Report for 2011, 85 percent of military suicides never experienced direct combat.

Army guidelines no longer stipulate combat service as required for a PTSD diagnosis. But even with that expanded guideline, a majority of military suicides have no corresponding diagnosis of PTSD or TBI to point to as a factor.

And while suicide rates have risen among service members who have deployed, they have also risen among those who have not.

Those who work in suicide prevention or behavioral health say they would love to find a common thread, leading to a “Eureka!” solution. With no common thread, that may not be possible.

By the numbers
One thing that is sure regarding military suicide is that it’s worse today than it was a decade ago, when the military could boast of a low rate compared to the civilian world.

In 2002, the military suicide rate was 10.3 in 100,000. Today, it is nearly equal to the civilian rate, adjusted for comparison to the military’s higher percentage of young white males, at 18 in 100,000. The overall unadjusted numbers nationally are 12 in 100,000.

The spike in military suicides hit a peak in 2012 with 350 – or nearly one a day – combining active-duty, reserve and National Guard figures. The figure exceeded the 295 combat deaths for 2012, causing a public outcry.

In conjunction with a similar trend in suicides of veterans – 22 a day according to the VA’s most recent report –national attention on the issue of suicide has tilted firmly in the direction of the military, almost exclusively.

A statistic that shouldn’t get lost in the focus on military suicides: Civilian suicides nationally are on the rise, especially among Baby Boomer males.

Read the rest of this story:

http://www.tennessean.com/article/20130714/NEWS/307140103/No-easy-answers-military-suicide

Read more on unqulified military applicants and attempts to recruit them:

http://nation.time.com/2013/06/27/recruiters-bag-o-tricks-trying-to-get-an-unqualified-applicant-into-the-u-s-military/

MILITARY SUICIDES EXPLODE: On Pace For 644 in 2013

Suicide in US Military Rising at Alarming Rate

by PressTV
May 28, 2013

The number of suicide cases among active service members in the US Army is rising at an alarming rate despite efforts made to curb the trend, Press TV reports.

According to a new report, the US military recorded 161 potential suicides in 2013, meaning one suicide about every 18 hours among active duty troops, reservists and National Guard members.

The report noted that US Defense Department, Pentagon, has implemented a number of initiatives in an attempt to decrease the number of suicides.

However, analysts believe that the rate will even increase in the next couple of years as more troops are returning from Afghanistan.

Read the rest of the story:

http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/05/28/305911/suicide-rate-in-us-military-alarming/

JBLM SPOKESMAN: “We Take Suicide Very Seriously”

CAPTION

At least 12 JBLM soldiers died from suicide in 2011, an all-time high. An internal Army investigation, prompted by senator Patty Murray, into the ‘un-diagnosing’ of PTSD in as many as 400 JBLM soldiers found that at least half had their PTSD diagnosis reversed to reduce disability compensation costs to DoD. Suicide statistics for 2012 are mostly unknown and unreported. The Army is expected to publish its annual suicide report for 2012 sometime next month. Meanwhile, senior Pentagon leaders continue a campaign to minimize the connection between PTSD, war duty and suicide in the military. According to a Nov. 18 USA Today news report, DoD continues its PR effort to link the ongoing military suicide epidemic to a struggling U.S. economy, failed relationships and suicide increases in the general population. “This is not just a military issue or an Army issue,” said Gen. Lloyd Austin III, Army vice chief of staff. “Across the military, we’re a microcosm of what’s in the nation,” said Navy Vice Adm. Martha Herb, director personnel readiness. Above, JBLM soldiers assigned to the “The Ranger Battalion” conduct ceremonies Nov. 7, 2012, at Fort Lewis to mark the end of its 15th combat deployment in the post-9/11 era. According to recently published statistics on a JBLM photo website, the Rangers spent a total of 59 months deployed to combat zones overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan. (DoD)

For Tacoma Military Base, a Grim Milestone in Soldier Suicides

JBLM passed an unwelcome milestone in 2011, recording more soldier suicides than in any previous year. At least 12 soldiers took their own lives in 2011, up from nine in 2010 and nine in 2009, said Lt. Col. Gary Dangerfield, a Fort Lewis PR officer assigned to the Army’s ‘Most Troubled Post.’ Suicide death totals will likely grow as the Army completes investigations ahead of expected release of its annual suicide report next month. In June, a news report cited Fort Lewis claims that no JBLM soldiers had died from suicide in the first six months of 2012.

by Adam Ashton
Tacoma News Tribune, Nov. 27, 2012

Joint Base Lewis-McChord passed an unwelcome milestone in 2011, recording more soldier suicides than in any previous year.

CAPTION

JBLM spokesman LtCol Gary Dangerfield.


Twelve soldiers took their own lives in 2011, up from nine in 2010 and nine in 2009, Army I Corps spokesman Lt. Col. Gary Dangerfield said. The total could grow as the Army completes investigations ahead of its annual suicide report next month.

The toll at Lewis-McChord rose despite new efforts to counsel soldiers when they come home from war, including the creation of a suicide-prevention office.

Lewis-McChord leaders plan to apply what they learned from those programs to help soldiers cope with stress at home and in their work.

“We take suicide very seriously,” Dangerfield said. “We’re going to continue to push the envelope to make sure soldiers get the resiliency training they need.”

Lewis-McChord’s surge in suicides followed its busiest year of combat deployments. More than 18,000 soldiers from the base served in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2009-10.

The base is also larger than ever, with some 34,000 soldiers stationed there, up from 19,000 before the war in Iraq started.

Leaders at the base established plans to help soldiers readjust to stateside life as major homecomings took place in the summer of 2010. In early 2011, Madigan Army Medical Center reported a rising number of soldiers and military family members seeking behavioral health services, a trend officers interpreted as a sign that people were becoming more open about asking for help.

This is not just a military issue or an Army issue.

— Gen. Lloyd Austin III, Army vice chief of staff

Across the military, we’re a microcosm of what’s in the nation.

— Navy Vice Adm. Martha Herb, director personnel readiness

Read this story at its source:

http://www.thenewstribune.com/2011/12/30/2382161/for-tacoma-military-base-a-grim.html

Watch video news report about Fort Lewis as “most troubled” military base:

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