Mullen: Military suicides an ‘emergency’
By Liz Goodwin
Thu Sep 30, 1:04 pm ET
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Wednesday that the military is facing a suicide crisis. "The emergency issue right now is suicides. We had five suicides in the Army last weekend," he told reporters.
Mullen said that the struggle to prevent military suicides will on get tougher as huge numbers of soldiers return to bases after multiple deployments. Last week, four suicides were reported at Texas' Ft. Hood base, including a murder–suicide. The suicide rate on the base is four times the national average, according to the New York Times. The overall Army suicide rate hit record levels over the summer.
"Dealing with [post–traumatic stress disorder], dealing with the injuries, dealing with just the overall pressures that so many have dealt with for so long," Mullen said, "I think we're going to see a growth in that before we see a decline."
An Army report, however, found that almost 80 percent of the suicides were committed by soldiers who had not been deployed more than once. The report blamed commanders who ignored warning signs among their soldiers.
Military experts released a study to the Defense Department last month charging that anti–suicide efforts are failing. Soldiers are afraid to seek mental health treatment for fear of it negatively affecting their careers, they say.
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