The U.S. Army suffered a record 32 suicides in July, the most since it began releasing monthly figures in 2009. That number includes 22 active duty soldiers and 10 reservists.
The U.S. government has launched a major effort to provide help to soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome and depression, hiring hundreds of mental health and substance abuse counselors and put to work the National Institute of Mental Health to conduct a five-year $50 million study and statistical analysis of suicide in the Army. All of these initiatives have so far failed.
The one policy change guaranteed to prevent the mental and emotional suffering that leads to such irregularly high rates of suicide – ending the myriad unnecessary wars, especially the war in Afghanistan – has not even been considered by those trying to tackle this problem. Politics, military dominance, the profits of the defense industry, material resources – are all apparently more important.
Last month President Barack Obama reversed the policy that denied signed condolence letters to families of U.S. soldiers who commit suicide. This was a meager and condescending gift as opposed to what could be given to these families by a change in foreign policy.