Task force: Military suicide prevention efforts inadequate

Started by neoteny, Aug 25, 2010, 04:43 AM

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neoteny

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Task force: Military suicide prevention efforts inadequate
Barbara Barrett, Mcclatchy Newspapers   - Tue Aug 24, 6:08 pm ET


WASHINGTON -- A Defense Department task force devoted to preventing suicide in the military presented a grim picture of the trend Tuesday, with suicides rising at a near steady pace even as commanders apply various balms to soothe a stressed, exhausted fighting force.

The military has nearly 900 suicide prevention programs across 400 military installations worldwide, but in a report released Tuesday, the task force describes the Defense Department's approach as a safety net riddled with holes.

Last year, 309 men and women slipped through.

In 2008, 267 service members committed suicide. In 2007, the number was 224.

However, the task force also gave a message of hope: Prevention efforts can work, members said, and suicidal behavior after combat deployment isn't normal.

"Having any of our nation's warriors die by suicide is not acceptable -- not now, not ever," said Army Maj. Gen. Philip Volpe , a physician and co-chairman of the Department of Defense Task Force on the Prevention of Suicide by Members of the Armed Forces.

Among the task force's findings:

-- The military doesn't have enough behavioral specialists and suicide prevention officers, and that those need better training.

-- Suicide prevention programs aren't streamlined across services.

-- Service members still encounter discriminatory and humiliating experiences when seeking psychiatric help.

-- Unit-level leaders especially struggle with how to assist the men and women under their guidance.

The numbers of suicides have increased almost steadily since the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan began, and task force members said Tuesday they were unable to pinpoint exactly why the trend continues despite prevention work being done so far.

"We don't have enough data to answer that question," said David Litts , a retired Air Force colonel and task force member.

But the task force found much to be concerned about. Volpe described a "supply-and-demand mismatch" that hurts a service member's ability to spend enough time back home to become reengaged with the community and their personal lives.

The report suggests either growing the size of the military or reducing mission demand.

It suggests establishing a policy office under the Secretary of Defense to streamline suicide prevention programs.

The report also recommends working more closely with military family members and improving communications between unit-level leaders and the men and women under their care.

The report found suicide investigations aren't now standardized. Task force members recommended learning more about suicide victims' last hours and days.

But mostly, the task force said, the military must look at mental health and well being as part of an overall approach to fitness -- one that includes social, physical, spiritual and psychological wellness.

Individual installations are developing their own programs to combat suicide.

As of July, the Army's Fort Bragg, N.C. , for instance, had four confirmed suicides, with two others under investigation. The base had six suicides in 2009, 13 in 2008 and 10 in 2007.

Another Army base , Fort Campbell, Ky. , reported 14 suicides in 2009, 12 in 2008 and nine in 2007. Of the military's branches, the Army has the highest number of suicides: 160 soldiers killed themselves in 2009.

Fort Bragg has begun using role-playing scenarios to train soldiers on how to help friends in despair.

Bonnie Carroll , an advocate for military survivors and co-chairwoman of the task force, said Tuesday she found hope watching young Marine recruits in training at Parris Island , S.C. There, she said, recruits are being told they should be as quick to call in support for personal problems as they would for air support during combat.

"And who's your front line?" Carroll asked. "Your buddy."

----

With all due respect to women serving in the US military, it would be interesting to hear what is the ratio of the sexes among the service members who commit suicide.
The spreading of information about the [quantum] system through the [classical] environment is ultimately responsible for the emergence of "objective reality." 

Wojciech Hubert Zurek: Decoherence, einselection, and the quantum origins of the classical

Men's Rights Activist

Is this accurate?  I'm searching for info and found this.  I'll come back to it and do some math.


"military suicides make up about 20% of all suicides in the U.S., suggesting that the problem is worse among the armed forces than in the general population since veterans make up only about 7.6% of the population."

This is from our men's oppression list at SYG:

# Suicide took the lives of 30,622 people in 2001 (CDC 2004).
# Suicide is the eighth leading cause of death for all U.S. men (Anderson and Smith 2003).
# 24,672 suicide deaths reported among men in 2001.
http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/factsheets/suifacts.htm
24,672 / 30,622 = .8056952
(or in other words, over 80% of all suicide deaths in 2001 were male)

Okay, let's see, 20% X 30,622 = 6,124.4  Nope, somebody's numbers are off.  Either the article I posted above, or the initial article in this thread is WRONG.  6,124 does not equal 309.  Beware of statistics.
Life, Liberty, & Pursuit of Happiness are fundamental rights for all (including males), & not contingent on gender feminist approval or denial. Consider my "Independence" from all tyrannical gender feminist ideology "Declared" - Here & Now!

Men's Rights Activist

#2
Aug 25, 2010, 11:36 AM Last Edit: Aug 25, 2010, 12:13 PM by Men's Rights Activist
I'm still looking for the gender breakdown for the U.S. forces, but here is this for the UK:

http://online.wsj.com/article/NA_WSJ_PUB:SB10001424052748704532204575397561114220230.html
From 1984 to 2009, 737 suicides occurred among U.K. regular armed-forces personnel: 718 among males, and 19 among females.

Dare I say, imagine the outcry if those numbers where reversed for the genders.

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/01/11/national/main6083072.shtml
Quote
VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said his agency needs to do a better job understanding what led to each suicide. He said he'd also like to see more stringent protocol put into place at VA facilities about how to handle a potentially suicide veteran, similar to what's done with someone who's having a heart attack.

He noted that of the 30,000 suicides each year in America, about 20 percent are committed by veterans.


http://www.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123185434
Quote
The suicide rate in all four services was higher than the national average, with 52 Marines and 48 Sailors taking their own lives in 2009, according to the individual services' annual reports. As of November, 147 Soldiers had fallen to suicide. The final 2009 figures for the Army are expected to be released Jan. 14.  Air Force officials reported 41 active-duty suicides, a 12.5 per 100,000 ratio, in 2009.

Admiral Mullen stressed that in addition to the high rate of suicides among the ground forces, the increasing rate is evident among the entire military.
As I look at the numbers for each service, the rates have gone up per capita at about the same rate over the past four or five years for every service," he said. "This isn't just a ground-force problem."


and here is this:

http://tinyurl.com/28tlwzo
Quote
The Marine Corps' suicide rate has reached 24 per 100,000, a rate that surpasses all the other services. The rate was 13 per 100,000 in 2006. The latest available figures put the civilian suicide rate at 20 per 100,000.

So far this year, 14 Marines have killed themselves, including seven with combat experience. An additional 72 attempted suicides were recorded in the first four months of the year, according to Bryan Driver, a spokesman in the Personal and Family Readiness Division.

Last year, 52 Marines took their lives. Thirty-six of those troops had seen combat, and 11 of the self-inflicted deaths took place in Iraq and Afghanistan, Driver said.


also,

Quote
Marines receive pre-deployment training about the risks of combat and post-traumatic stress disorder, and couples and families are counseled about the long separations that result from multiple deployments.

"But we still see creeping rates of sexual assault, domestic violence and suicide ---- all the lines are up, and that is frustrating," said Zilmer, who headed Marine Corps forces in Iraq from 2005-07 as head of Camp Pendleton's I Marine Expeditionary Force.


http://www.wsws.org/articles/2009/feb2009/suic-f04.shtml
Quote
American troops are taking their own lives in the largest numbers since records began to be kept in 1980. In 2008, there were 128 confirmed suicides by serving army personnel and 41 by serving marines. Another 15 army deaths are still being investigated. The toll is another of the terrible consequences that have flowed from Washington's neo-colonial wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The army suicide rate is now higher than that among the general American population. The rate has been calculated as 20.2 per 100,000 soldiers, compared with 19.5 per 100,000 civilians.


http://www.wsws.org/articles/2009/feb2009/suic-f04.shtml
Quote

As many as 18 veterans of American wars take their own lives in the United States every day--more than 6,500 per year. Vietnam veteran advocates have estimated that suicide ultimately killed more of the soldiers who fought in that conflict than the actual war itself. The same trend is now surfacing among the veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq.

A recent case was the suicide of Specialist Larry Applegate on January 16. After an argument with his wife, during which shots were fired, Applegate barricaded himself inside his Colorado Springs home. Shortly after, he killed himself with a bullet to the head.


Quote
"Grim record: Army suicides in 2009 hit highest level, accounts for 20% of national suicides

Of the more than 30,000 suicides in this country each year, fully 20% of them are acts by veterans
," Shinseki said.

"That means on average 18 veterans commit suicide each day. Five of those veterans are under our care at VA. So losing five veterans who are in treatment every month, and then not having a shot at the other 13 who for some reason haven't come under our care, means that we have a lot of work to do."

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/2010/01/12/2010-01-12_army_suicide_.html#ixzz0xe90ONx0

Life, Liberty, & Pursuit of Happiness are fundamental rights for all (including males), & not contingent on gender feminist approval or denial. Consider my "Independence" from all tyrannical gender feminist ideology "Declared" - Here & Now!

Men's Rights Activist

http://usmilitary.about.com/cs/terrorism/a/arsuicide.htm

Quote
According to Col. Bruce Crow, who served on the mental health advisory team, all but two of the 24 soldiers who committed suicide in 2003 while deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom were male.
Life, Liberty, & Pursuit of Happiness are fundamental rights for all (including males), & not contingent on gender feminist approval or denial. Consider my "Independence" from all tyrannical gender feminist ideology "Declared" - Here & Now!

Men's Rights Activist

#4
Aug 25, 2010, 02:31 PM Last Edit: Aug 25, 2010, 02:36 PM by Men's Rights Activist
After all the dead ends, I wrote the U.S. Department of Defense and they sent me a report released JUST YESTERDAY.  I will use this for a story in my school paper ASAP, regarding on-campus veterans services.

The Challenge and the Promise:  Strengthening the Force, Preventing Suicide and Saving Lives  August 2010

Number of Suicide Cases - 606 (2005 - 2009)
Male 572 (94.4%, 2005-2000), (86.0%, Over all years Army)
Female 34 (5.6%, 2005 - 2009) (14.0%, Over all years Army)

Based on 2008 data
Source: U.S. Army Public Health Command (Provisional), Epidemiological Report
No. 14-Hk-0BW9-10c, Analyses of Army Suicides, 2003-2009

Only the Army provides clear statistics.  The other branches of the service seem intent on obfuscating "the big picture" by conjuring up all kinds of witty math calculations like rate per 100,000, but then not giving the total enlistment numbers.  Some of the graphs do show that the Army has the most significant problem, then it appears the Marine corps.  But trying to read an precise number from an imprecise charts that the Navy, Marines and Air Force provide is futile.   All the numbers seem to have taken a steady rise since 2008.  Hmm.  The Navy did say that 95% of their suicides in the 2008 - 2009 year were male.
Life, Liberty, & Pursuit of Happiness are fundamental rights for all (including males), & not contingent on gender feminist approval or denial. Consider my "Independence" from all tyrannical gender feminist ideology "Declared" - Here & Now!

neoteny

The Navy did say that 95% of their suicides in the 2008 - 2009 year were male.


Thank you for looking after some hard numbers. I think it is quite shoddy journalism to habitually mention the "men and women" of the armed forces as pertains to suicides, then say nothing about the ratios.
The spreading of information about the [quantum] system through the [classical] environment is ultimately responsible for the emergence of "objective reality." 

Wojciech Hubert Zurek: Decoherence, einselection, and the quantum origins of the classical

Men's Rights Activist

Quote
Thank you for looking after some hard numbers. I think it is quite shoddy journalism to habitually mention the "men and women" of the armed forces as pertains to suicides, then say nothing about the ratios.


Yep, I wholeheartedly agree.  I've got another email into the DOD asking for those other stats, but it is a bureaucracy so I'm skeptical until I get the info in hand.  I'll certainly post anything definitive if it arrives.
Life, Liberty, & Pursuit of Happiness are fundamental rights for all (including males), & not contingent on gender feminist approval or denial. Consider my "Independence" from all tyrannical gender feminist ideology "Declared" - Here & Now!

.

So males made up 94.4% of the total number of military suicides.  But males comprise a much larger portion of the military than females.  A better way to look at the problem is to ask, "What percentage of male military personnel committed suicide" and "What percentage of female military personnel committed suicide."  Apply the percentage to the number of personnel in each gender, rather than applying the percentage to the total number of suicides.  Why do this?  To measure how severely suicide affects males vs. females in the military.

Men's Rights Activist

Quote
So males made up 94.4% of the total number of military suicides.


I'm not sure it's the whole military.  I think that's the number for the Army and some journalists have said it's the whole military.

You have a good point about the percentage of suicides by sex, given the greater number of males in the military - still numbers are numbers and the overall body count comprised almost exclusively of males is shocking.
Life, Liberty, & Pursuit of Happiness are fundamental rights for all (including males), & not contingent on gender feminist approval or denial. Consider my "Independence" from all tyrannical gender feminist ideology "Declared" - Here & Now!

neoteny

A better way to look at the problem is to ask, "What percentage of male military personnel committed suicide" and "What percentage of female military personnel committed suicide."


I agree; my point was that the article failed to mention either absolute or relative ratios, yet mentioned "men and women" three times.
The spreading of information about the [quantum] system through the [classical] environment is ultimately responsible for the emergence of "objective reality." 

Wojciech Hubert Zurek: Decoherence, einselection, and the quantum origins of the classical

.

If the factors that drive military men to commit suicide are different than the factors that drive military women to commit suicide, then suicide in the military does warrant a closer gender-based examination.  A first step in determining that is to see which gender is disproportionately affected within their ranks by suicide.  A second step is to examine differing pressures and risks borne by men vs. women, such as exposure to combat.  Third is to examine the military culture that comes into play when males are at risk; are their commanding officers trained to spot clues, and once spotted, is there enough urgency for them to quickly provide the soldier with effective services?  Fourth, are male soldiers themselves conditioned by military culture not to complain (whereas female soldiers are coddled)?  Fifth, are there any pressures upon males that are imposed by external forces beyond the military, such as spouses divorcing them and taking the kids during the soldier's deployment?  On this point Fathers and Families has recently had some significant victories in several states that should mitigate such pressures.

Yes, "men and women" is obviously a politically correct term that effectively glosses over the uniqueness of the male experience, especially since suicides are disproportionately committed by males.  I'm bugged by it too...  It's misandry to disacknowledge the uniqueness of both male pain and male accomplishments, and it is the cultural influence of feminism (with its assertion that men and women are non-distinct in every substantial way) which is to blame for that.

neoteny

Link to article

Marines pour resources into mental health care
Kevin Maurer And Julie Watson, Associated Press Writers   - Wed Aug 25, 4:20 pm ET


CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - They have been in harm's way for years in two countries, in a branch of the military where toughness and self-reliance have been especially prized for generations. Now the Marines are struggling against an enemy that has entrenched itself over nearly a decade of war: mental illness.

Marines stressed from repeated tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan are seeking help like never before, and their suicide rate is the highest in the military after doubling in just the past three years. Even with more mental-health professionals sent to bases to help, they have had trouble keeping up with demand.

There have been times when staff at Camp Lejeune's base hospital faced a choice of either staying with a Marine through lengthy treatment or leaving a case midstream to be able to keep up with the deluge of new patients.

"We couldn't see people as frequently as we wanted to and to see them as much as we wanted to would mean not getting another Marine an initial evaluation," said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Rebecca Webster, the hospital's head of mental health.

More than 1,100 members of the armed forces killed themselves from 2005 to 2009, and suicides have been on the rise again this year. The sharpest increases have been in the Army and Marine Corps, the services most stretched by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

One 23-year-old Marine recently treated for post traumatic stress disorder at Camp Lejeune said he felt processed by the system rather than properly treated. The Marine, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said that after his diagnosis he was relegated to short appointments during which mental health specialists did little more than check his dosages.

"They just threw a bunch of pills at me," he said.


Mike Sloan, a California veteran who counsels troubled Marines, said commanders should be doing more to reach out to Marines in trouble and get them help. He said the military still faces a huge challenge in changing a mindset that encourages troops to be tough and handle problems on their own.

"We people don't listen in the armed forces," said Sloan, who helped start a nonprofit veterans group in Oceanside, Calif., a community that borders Camp Pendleton. "I am positive combat stress and PTSD are caused by leadership failures."

Sloan cited a case in June in which a Marine alerted Camp Pendleton officials after seeing a disturbing message on a fellow Marine's Facebook page.

A Camp Pendleton spokesman, 1st Lt. Ken Kunze, said the Marine's command " not mental health providers " contacted the young man. He told them he was fine and was driving off base, heading home to Michigan.

The next day, the Marine was found dead, hanging from an observation tower on base, Kunze said. His family complained that not enough was done to prevent the suicide, and the Marine Corps is investigating the case.

A report ordered by Congress last year and sent to Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Tuesday said the service branches' prevention programs are inefficient. The 14-member panel of military and civilian doctors recommended dozens of changes, including the creation of a high-level office to set strategy and coordinate prevention programs across branches.

Officials with the Navy, which oversees health care for the Marines, say a number of factors are putting strains on its hospital staffs. Multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan are making troops more vulnerable to psychological problems, and the number of people living on bases has greatly expanded with military recruitment up because of the wars. The government also is demanding more rigorous pre- and post-deployment screenings to catch problems and treat them.

The Marine Corps has started deploying mental health professionals with battalions in the field, but the efforts have yet to make a substantial difference in curbing the suicide rate, commanders say.

Mental health professionals, including social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists, have been added to the staffs of 18 naval hospitals to treat Marines and sailors, who serve with Marine units on the ground as medics, said Cmdr. Cappy Surette, a Navy Medicine spokesman.

Camp Pendleton had 18 health professionals treating about 1,100 Marines per month three years ago. Today it has 38 to treat more than 1,700 Marines monthly, Surette said.

At Camp Lejeune, the number of mental health workers went from eight to 48 over the past three years. The number of Marines and sailors seeking help there doubled during that time, to more than 4,000 monthly.

The Army has also beefed up its staff since 2007, adding 1,264 civilian, military and contract mental health workers. That's a more than 68 percent increase, but Army officials say it is 465 providers less than they would like.

The Marines' suicide rate is 24 per 100,000, and the Army's rate is close behind at 22 per 100,000. The suicide rate among U.S. civilians -- when adjusted to reflect the age, gender and racial demographics of sailors and Marines -- was close to 20 per 100,000 between 1999 and 2005, according to a Navy report.

The Air Force rate of 15.5 suicides per 100,000 is its highest since 1995. The Navy has the lowest rate at 13.3 per 100,000, but even that has been increasing over the last five years.

Veterans groups and officials have said it is difficult to compare current data with other eras. The current wars are the first conflicts during which the military has monitored active-duty suicide rates.

Critics say the quality of care still falls short. They point to the May suicide of a Marine who shot himself on base minutes before he was supposed to be checked into Camp Lejeune's hospital, and to an ongoing Defense Department investigation of the hospital after a military brain trauma specialist complained to commanders about poor facilities, inadequate care programs and weak security. Dr. Kernan Manion was fired after making those complaints.

Retired Marine and Jacksonville defense attorney Scott Jack said many of his clients are Marines suffering from psychological problems who face criminal charges because of misconduct tied to drug and alcohol abuse. He said his clients blame their problems in part on overworked doctors who only prescribed medication and had no time to spend with them.

Doctors at Camp Lejeune's hospital defend the treatment and say they are being judged on past years, not at the current level of treatment.

"I know we do good work. I am at the center of it. We take care for these guys," said Cmdr. Deborah Sweetman, who oversees the Deployment Health Center at Camp Lejeune, which screens Marines for mental health issues after a deployment. "You can't send these men and women into these situations and have them come back unscathed."

----

Now that the Commander assures us that she's at the center of the good work done, there's no need to listen to the sufferers.
The spreading of information about the [quantum] system through the [classical] environment is ultimately responsible for the emergence of "objective reality." 

Wojciech Hubert Zurek: Decoherence, einselection, and the quantum origins of the classical

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