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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Thirteen Active Duty/Discharged Soldiers Committed Suicide Since 2003 in Minnesota Alone

Following the January 16 suicide of Marine Jonathan Schulze, who had served in Iraq and sought VA help for post-combat ailments include mental health issues, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune conducted an investigation (alongside two conducted by the military looking at possible negligence on the part of MN VAMCs Schulze had sought help from) into other similiar incidents.

What they found offers one glimpse into a problem not adequately represented by the suicide figures the military makes public. The DoD does not track suicides of those who have left the military, nor do they include them in any way in their war-related casualty counts. Click on 'Article Link' below tags for more...

From KARE-11, the Minneapolis-St. Paul NBC affiliate:

According to death records researched by the Star Tribune, 13 active-duty or discharged servicemen under age 30 committed suicide in Minnesota between January 2003 and last October. Most of those veterans did not seek counseling.

In addition, studies show that soldiers are more likely to commit suicide than civilians. An Army study shows that in Iraq and Kuwait, 22 U-S soldiers killed themselves in 2005, nearly double the national rate.

Another study shows that post-traumatic stress disorder is nearly four times as common in veterans of Army or Marine ground units in Iraq and Afghanistan than in servicemen in other units.

If we were to extrapolate this figure alone to our 50 states, that would equal 650 active duty or discharged service members under the age of 30 who might have committed suicide since the start of the Iraq War in 2003. 650.

ePluribus Media and I have been tracking press-reported incidents of post-deployment reintegration problems that may be related to PTSD in the PTSD Timeline. As we are volunteers doing this work, and I've been taken away from it since this summer to write my book on PTSD, the data represents only a sliver of what is happening to some of our returning troops and their families.

It is heartrending, if incomplete, nonetheless.

[UPDATE Mar 15 2007]: Anderson Cooper covers the Jonathan Schulze investigation on his 'Keeping Them Honest' segment...




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