October 4, 2010

How Not To Prevent Military Suicides

bear.jpg

bear


If you had a a family member commit suicide in the military, then please do not read this post.  It is not for you, and running back over it all, wondering what was to blame and whether there was anything anyone could do is masochism, you will not find anything comforting here.

Probably the only consolation possible:

Now there is one thing I can tell you: you will [eventually] enjoy certain pleasures you would not fathom now. When you still had your mother you often thought of the days when you would have her no longer. Now you will often think of days past when you had her.

When you are used to this horrible thing that they will forever be cast into the past, then you will gently feel her revive, returning to take her place, her entire place, beside you. At the present time, this is not yet possible.

Let yourself be inert, wait till the incomprehensible power ... that has broken you restores you a little, I say a little, for henceforth you will always keep something broken about you. Tell yourself this, too, for it is a kind of pleasure to know that you will never love less, that you will never be consoled, that you will constantly remember more and more.


I.

For the rest of us, this is how you don't reduce military suicides.


Military suicide prevention efforts fail: report


Here are the cited reasons:

  • Each branch of the services rushed to create a suicide prevention program, but there was no coordination.
  • prevention training often failed because those running the sessions did not understand their importance
  • "It is not just the perception that they will be treated differently or somehow that it will affect their career, but it is also distrust in the system and distrust that mental health professionals can help them"
  • "A large percentage of our servicemen, our veterans, do not come in to get help"
  • "They don't trust us. They believe we speak with forked tongues," Bradley said.


Or, the conclusion of General Peter Chiarelli, vice chief of staff of the Army, before the Senate Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee:

"I think it is the cumulative effect of deployments from 12 to 15 months"

Of course: war is hell, and sometimes it's too much for some people.  Right?



II.

You might think that would be the last thing a general would say, especially since deployments are scheduled to get longer.    

And there's a substantial political desire for it to be true, to have yet another reason to end the wars.  I don't blame them; nor am I saying I wouldn't similarly manipulate the truth if I thought it would save lives, but I don't lie to myself.  You keep two books, not no books.


III.

Here's the important part of the data that is usually not included, not here or here or many other heres: 30% were deployed, 35% were post-deployment, and 35% were never deployed.

Those three populations are totally different.  Whatever it was that happened in battle could not have happened before you got to the battle.  This suggests that the approach for the never deployed be different than the currently deployed. Duh?

Second, in showing the official conclusion of the military, you might ask what they don't want the answer to be.  In other words, not what is the benefit from this being the answer, but what is the benefit in it not being something else.   And that something else is physical traumatic brain injury.

And now we're into a longstanding, very real, military question: what is PTS(D)?  Is it all physical, all mental, or both?  What about mild traumatic brain injury-- all concussion, more than concussion, what?  You can get "treatment" at any VA hospital regardless of what you call it, and (hopefully) doctors will look at the MRIs or the psych scales and treat what they need to treat, but the military won't formally call it anything until the money side is worked out. That money side is Congress's willingness to cover disablities and liabilities, and that willingness is entirely dependent on the reaction of the voters to the price tag.  In other words, whether the suicides are the result of psychiatry, neurology, biology, divorces or explosions depends mostly on you.


III.

Here's a first step: take the management of suicidality in the currently deployed combat soldiers out of psychiatry.

What do you want to do here?  Is the goal to reduce suicides or is the goal to "offer services" and "promote awareness?"  It doesn't matter if suicidality is 100% genetic, you approach it like it's not.

Here is a statement, your reaction to which will quickly determine your interests lay:  the only thing less effective than telling these soldiers that the solution is psychiatry is to add that the psychiatrists are all gay.  Pray on this.

If we're pretending these psychiatric illnesses are real medical diseases, then we must defer to the patient's prejudices.  And, my experience: soldiers don't like shrinks unless they're trying to be ex-soldiers, and then they only pretend to like us.  And they don't trust that shrinks are not a sandwich away from going Columbine themselves, not least because one of them actually went Columbine, well after we were supposed to be "aware" of the "causes" of Columbine, and none of the other psychiatrists noticed.

Some of them maintain themselves on bravado and denial, they think that if they get their arm blown off in a fight, they're just going to special forces everybody down with the good hand.   Why would they admit to a mental illness, even if that's actually the problem?

You most emphatically cannot tell them that depression is a real medical illness with biological underpinnings that can affect anyone, from the Denver housewife to an Airborne Ranger, because you cannot make a soldier feel that his situation has anything in common with a Denver housewife's.  At all.  Because the more he believes you the more he won't show up.

It's revealing that the conclusion everyone has reached about these suicides is that "war is hell," yet the proposed solution has nothing to do with war.  It more closely mirrors the kind of management I give a man traumatized in a waverunner accident.  Are they similar?

Hence, the way to approach suicide prevention is to make suicidality/stress a rare, though entirely expected consequence of battle.   Not to over analyze it, but to acknowledge it.  In short, not to pathologize it, but to mainstream it:  "Yeah, me too."


IV.

You can stop sending more psychiatrists: 40% of the suicides are already in treatment and on meds.  In regular America, only 25% of suicides have never seen a psychiatrist.

But if only it were so easy.  Here are three factors that make military life nearly unbearable, that we don't hear about:

One: deployed soldiers are still in contact.  Not only do they have the stress of war, but they also have an almost real-time update of the stresses at home.  In Vietnam your wife wouldn't bother to mention the boiler broke down, now you get to know that fact the same day you shot/got shot by 6 people. You are doubly burdened and doubly powerless.  Not to mention get to watch your marriage deteriorate in serialized emails while you're statused about her  increasing happiness through facebook.



lisa facebook.png



Third: 2% of the Army's drug screens come back positive.  2%.  Includes Afghanistan.  Where they invented heroin.  2%.  Even as 25% admit to abusing-- not using, abusing-- painkillers. 

Fourth: gangs: it's not the crimes, but the hostility, the fear and the marginalization.  Try being an enlisted guy on a carrier looking to use the gym.  Want to know what movie ordinary Army life isn't like? The Hurt Locker.  What it is it like? Training Day.  I'm exaggerating?


gang women.jpg

  1. Those are bazookas.
  2. Those are gang signs.
  3. Those are women.



V.


Psychiatry may be the way to handle the non-combat suicides, but it clearly isn't working for the combat/post- combat PTS(D) group.  So there's this:

Here's what PTSD is like, and why people kill themselves over it. Think of life like a cave. If I send you into a cave with a lantern and tell you there are no bears in the cave, you feel safe. You will walk around the cave and enjoy yourself. Now what if I give you a lantern and a gun and tell you that there is a bear in there? You can still go down, but you'll be careful to look for the bear and ready to run or shoot if you see it. Now, what if I send you down there with a gun but no lantern and simply say "bear" to you? Pretty soon, you're in there, you can't see the way out, and every rock you bump into feels like a bear. After a long enough time being down in the cave, you realize you don't have enough ammo to shoot everything that might be a bear. It has nothing to do with running out of food or water or feeling like you're fighting some unwinnable battle with the bear. You just get sick and tired of the uncertainty. Are you going to live through the night? Are you going to wake up to a bear gnawing your intestines? You get to the point where you just wish the bear would come along and end it. And when he doesn't come, you decide to do it yourself.

Couple that with a winning facebook update, and you're set.


---


http://twitter.com/thelastpsych










Comments

alone, i'm the boy who emai... (Below threshold)

October 4, 2010 12:55 PM | Posted by Unstoppable Boy: | Reply

alone, i'm the boy who emailed you. thanks. alot.

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That is a really good pullq... (Below threshold)

October 4, 2010 1:42 PM | Posted by mir: | Reply

That is a really good pullquote about mourning. The one that starts:

"Now there is one thing I can tell you: you will [eventually] enjoy certain pleasures you would not fathom now. "

Did you write that or is it a quote? I'd like to send it to a friend of mine, but I want to be able to attribute it correctly.

Thanks,
M

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I'm stuck on that quote as ... (Below threshold)

October 4, 2010 2:03 PM | Posted by rox: | Reply

I'm stuck on that quote as well. But everything else is well written too.

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Marcel Proust... (Below threshold)

October 4, 2010 2:34 PM | Posted, in reply to mir's comment, by Paul: | Reply

Marcel Proust

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As a combat veteran from an... (Below threshold)

October 4, 2010 3:37 PM | Posted by Nik T: | Reply

As a combat veteran from an air assault infantry unit I'd like to say thank you for articulating a great deal of what I've tried to explain to people many times before. I've lost friends from my old unit to drug overdoses of pain medication which they were prescribed while on active service. I believe a large part of the problem with suicide has to do with the increase in substance abuse in the military due to extreme overwork and stress. Try driving down a road you know could explode at any moment if you don't find the bomb first for a year and then tell me how easy it is to act normal and adjusted in society, or find anything redeeming in life after you've had to take it. These are problems of how one conceptualizes the world after a traumatic event which medication doesn't seem very capable of handling as a problem. Pills are the largest problem by far and usually are initially obtained through the people there to supposedly help, though their function might be better described as being there to keep you in the fight.

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Is that Facebook screenshot... (Below threshold)

October 4, 2010 4:10 PM | Posted by someone: | Reply

Is that Facebook screenshot for real? She looks like she's in her late thirties or early forties, but the DOB is 1986.

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After reading All Quiet on ... (Below threshold)

October 4, 2010 4:23 PM | Posted by rox: | Reply

After reading All Quiet on the Western Front, I certainly felt that desire for death made sense. How can you relate to human beings when you have too deep an understanding of suffering? Most people's brains can not comprehend that level of suffering, and it's meaningless. There is no reason for a level of suffering to exist. No it doesn't make life worth living, no it doesn't enhance our experience of life. There are some forms of suffering that can make an entire lifetime of positive experiences mean nothing.

Like Doc Cocran said, "If this is God's will, then God is an asshole."

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I mis quoted. It's actually... (Below threshold)

October 4, 2010 4:32 PM | Posted by rox: | Reply

I mis quoted. It's actually "If this is (God's) will, then he's a son of a bitch."

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"They don't trust us. T... (Below threshold)

October 4, 2010 5:35 PM | Posted by dfp: | Reply

"They don't trust us. They believe we speak with forked tongues," Bradley said.

What he fails to understand is that the soldiers don't merely believe this, they KNOW it. The government DOES speak with a forked tongue. Prisoners at gitmo were tortured to death, and then the government said they committed suicide to cover up what happened. Pat Tillman was killed by friendly fire, and the Pentagon made up a lie which sounded better. Jessica Lynch was taken prisoner, and the Pentagon made up a lie about that, too. In each case, there have to have been soldiers who knew about that happening, and who were told to lie about it. And every other soldier has to wonder if they would lie about something when told to. And they have to wonder if the government will use them for propaganda should that be handy.

The Pentagon tells any and every lie which will benefit them and which they think they might get away with. They order soldiers to participate in their lies. Why would anyone who's been part of this turn around and trust the government when they offer a way to get help?

Col. Bradley may not be able to bring himself to admit the truth, but the real problem is this: he is part of a group of liars, and people inside the group know it. They don't trust the military because the military has demonstrated, time and time again, that they should not be trusted.

He doesn't want to fix the problem, which would require institutional change and painful, brutal honesty. He just wants to figure out some sort of PR move to make everything look nice so they'll be trusted without first earning anyone's trust.

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When I was (supposed to be)... (Below threshold)

October 5, 2010 12:40 PM | Posted by medsvstherapy: | Reply

When I was (supposed to be) treating vets for PTSD, I heard plenty of stories. Every now and then, the topic of the Dear John letter would come up. Each of these guys, from differnt places in Korea or VN, knew cases of their buddies who ended up dead soon after the Dear John letter. Either suicide or acting carelessly, knowing better. In some circumstances, lighting a match above ground level at nite is pretty much a sucidal gesture.

We can all discover how true this is by asking any vets that might be willing to talk abt the Dear John letter. Nowadays, you just see the staus update on Facebook, I guess.

(I never claimed to be able to cure or help these guys with combat PTSD - I knew better. I was happy to be in the room with them, though, for group or individual sessions. They taught me a lot!)

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1) Those are AT4s, not bazo... (Below threshold)

October 5, 2010 5:22 PM | Posted by Phelps: | Reply

1) Those are AT4s, not bazookas.

2) The AT4s appear to be expended, and therefore inert.

3) I think you are mistaking grim battlefield humor (a valid coping mechanism) for a more serious situation.

The rest of the article, though, is spot on. This is a serous problem, and the service is getting better about it. They've certainly come a long way since Vietnam, but there is also certainly much more than can be done.

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I really think the facebook... (Below threshold)

October 5, 2010 5:27 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I really think the facebook/email aspect of this problem is interesting. In taking this article in another direction, it seems facebook has become an inextricable part of the lives of Americans. TLP, if we are to believe that narcissism is when someone views themselves as the main character of their own movie, do you think facebook is breading further narcissism in America?

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It appears that we're still... (Below threshold)

October 5, 2010 8:53 PM | Posted by Jack Coupal: | Reply

It appears that we're still learning how to fight a guerrilla war. We used guerrilla tactics against the British in the Revolution, when we were the pipsqueaks. So, guerrilla warfare is not new.

Now, we're the big guys, and guerrilla warfare can be very effective against us. Military suicides will eventually be reduced in number when we learn something about soldiers' natural responses to terror. It looks like we know practically nothing about that now.

When we become smart, maybe even that Denver housewife will benefit. The West will be fighting terror in deserts, mountains, and cities for the rest of this century.

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Jack, the answer is not to ... (Below threshold)

October 5, 2010 9:09 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Jack, the answer is not to become more savvy to guerilla warfare tactics but instead to look at what has been causing these attacks on the West. The war on terrorism is distinctly different than conventional war and with it comes the constant threat of injury and death from an unseen enemy. It is this type of war and that of Vietnam that causes this reaction in our military personnel - how often did soldiers in WWII commit suicide? The answer to the problem with military suicide, ultimately, is to rethink our place in these wars. We have no need to be in the region, no need to watch young people die in combat, and no need to watch members of the military commit suicide. US policy is to blame in this case.

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Regarding suicide, let's no... (Below threshold)

October 5, 2010 9:33 PM | Posted by subtxt: | Reply

Regarding suicide, let's not forget the adjustment period for those returning to civilian life after serving in the military and like institutions in terms of decision making. I remember a friend in college had a roommate who recently returned from a tour in Iraq. The guy was around twenty or twenty one and had created a daily schedule for himself at the beginning of the semester which he laminated, rendering it immutable. I had a chance to look at it and noticed that there were very few spaces where he'd have to figure out what to do with himself. Additionally, most things you and I would consider those which can be done if and when we feel like (e.g. cleaning, pleasure reading, etc) were prescheduled to minimize decision making.

Seeing as how there are many service men and women who enter the military at an age at which they have yet to learn how to manage life's difficulties (as well as life's pleasures) on their own, the few years of deeply organized and structured living at an age which is difficult to call adulthood but that is legally known as so, does nothing to prepare them for the reality of the civilian world where decisions must be made not idealistically, but adaptively or better - improvisationally. Add to this the lack of being able to justify consequential fallout by believing one is 'just following orders', and you've got a most muddling effect on one's self identity, self concept and therefore self worth. This novel, unfamiliar feeling known as guilt that comes part and parcel with responsibility needs to be lived with and adjusted to, something that many find very difficult. Not to mention the often debilitative anxiety that results from the process, further frustrating any attempts at a normal life, and possibly leading to suicidal thoughts and actions.

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Nail on head is hit, only d... (Below threshold)

October 5, 2010 10:46 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Nail on head is hit, only difference with my experience was it being a traumatic experience in 'civilian' life, and that I shared the experience with my best friend. The catch, however, was when I realised my friend was a narcissist. Meaning, when I decided to seek counselling because I realised that something wasn't right, that I wasn't enjoying hallucinating and being a jerk to my other friends, he became enraged and hurt and tried to sabotage my experience in psychotherapy.

Aside from that, the worst thing that happened out of that experience was something I found out a friend had said, in good will, to another friend of mine: "If anyone I know can get through that experience, it's Anonymous." It meant that I tried to 'get over it' too quickly, and was incredibly hard on myself when it came back to bite me on the arse.

So yes, thank you, that's why I only trust people who have been in the cave to talk about my experiences.

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Holy shit, are you me? The ... (Below threshold)

October 6, 2010 8:09 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Different Anon: | Reply

Holy shit, are you me? The only difference is that my family were also actively sabotaging my attempts to even seek therapy.

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Alas, we seem to attract to... (Below threshold)

October 6, 2010 10:15 AM | Posted, in reply to Different Anon's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Alas, we seem to attract to TLP like flies to shit. Too many people I know have this story to tell, each at a different level of articulating it.

And when I'm told I'm being 'really strong' for articulating it, I get annoyed. It's more 'aren't these thoughts forming in your heads too? I'm trying new strategies to sleep at night, it's the new black.'

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I think that you may be rea... (Below threshold)

October 6, 2010 10:48 AM | Posted, in reply to subtxt's comment, by Phelps: | Reply

I think that you may be reading more immutability into that than you think. There's a difference between having a plan and having no flexibility. After all, the military is the one who keeps the saying, "no plan survives contact with the enemy" in use.

He's come from a situation where people slacking off at the wrong time gets others killed, and going into a situation where far too many people kill their academic chances by slacking off at the wrong time. It makes sense for him to apply the skills he has learned (and have been paid for in blood.)

The funny thing is, (I work in litigation) I tend to recommend that people make a schedule for themselves during a trial that includes time for things like pleasure reading, because without the plan these types would never do anything like it and just let the stress build up. (A Few Good Men is one of the few films that captures the drive and schedule well.) The military schedules regular R&R for a good reason.

The military doesn't drive out individuality -- they impose discipline. Soldiers must adapt and improvise, and the military doesn't want that to go away. It encourages it -- within the boundaries of discipline.

People who join the military join up because they are different than the people who go straight to college. Projecting your feelings onto their methods won't give a lot of insight into how they tick.

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The military didn't record ... (Below threshold)

October 6, 2010 10:57 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Phelps: | Reply

The military didn't record suicide rates in WW2, but they did record PTSD rates, and 25% of casualties in WW2 were serious PTSD cases, in comparison to 20% now. That would appear to falsify your hypothesis.

We're better at dealing with combat stress now than we were in WW2. Part of the reason is that we recognize that it is nothing new, and build on what we have learned in past wars. Let's not throw that progress out to try to make some sort of political point. Combat stress comes from combat, and the reason the politicians put the soldiers in it has virtually nothing to do with it.

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If a Vet sees a psychiatris... (Below threshold)

October 6, 2010 2:51 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

If a Vet sees a psychiatrist what happens? They get legal prescription drugs and a record in their military file of their "illness". Try advancement after that in your file.
The drugs are called medication not drugs.
The drugs are NOT happy pills , they are anti-depressants.
Playing with words to define the "correct" reality. Drugs are drugs. If there is a real medical illness, there should be a real scientific test for this illness.
RE"You get to the point where you just wish the bear would come along and end it. And when he doesn't come, you decide to do it yourself."
This person has been locked in a cave without light to see.
Who did this doctor? The patients own feelings of sadness-horror-despair-depression are a disease to be killed by a medicine? Who is the patient killing when they take a pill?

They need to laugh and get laid.
But you can`t laugh and get laid with bullshit in your head.
I"t Don't Mean Nothin'"

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I think an issue with milit... (Below threshold)

October 6, 2010 5:59 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I think an issue with military suicides that we aren't picking up on is that the sort of person who joins the military often has preexisting mental instability, personal problems, or a lack of support. Who joins the military? Poor people, desperate people, people from shattered families, people with personal conflicts they hope to either escape or resolve through military training.

I've known a handful of people in the military, and I can say every one of those people had more problems than an average person. And many of them joined the military as a DIRECT result of personal issues or financial issues that they were hoping to resolve.

I don't doubt that being at war, the threat of war, the threat of harm to yourself every day will fuck your brain up good, and I don't doubt people decide the logical thing is to just kill yourself to make it stop. But I also think the military attracts the exact sort of person who is not mentally capable of coping with it. NO one normal with a good internal stability and good support system chooses to join the military. It's an act of desperation.

Let's be realistic here. People in the military are not the top echelons of society. They have numerous problems and the military is a last resort.

In a way, I would argue that joining the military is a self-selecting marker for suicidality. People inclined to join the military are clearly demonstrating an abnormal lack of concern for their life. Sure, no one thinks they will die at war, but it demonstrates a fearlessness, a lack of normal reserve and concern for your physical well being... this is the stuff suicides are made of.

Statistically speaking anorexia nervosa has a very high mortality rate, not just from starvation but from violent suicide.. in spite of the fact 90% of anorexics are females, and females are less inclined toward violent suicide and do not complete suicide as often as men. WHy is this? Women who are inclined toward severe self starvation are demonstrating a mental capacity for lack of personal concern and safety. This group is self-selecting for suicidality. It's obvious why someone who is capable of anorexia nervosa would also be capable of violent suicide.

Similarly it is obvious why someone who joins the military is capable of suicide, much in the way someone who takes percocets is capable of heroin addiction. You're showing you have the stuff for it.

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Hey phelps, did you ever co... (Below threshold)

October 6, 2010 6:04 PM | Posted, in reply to Phelps's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Hey phelps, did you ever consider the fact that WW2 was way more traumatizing than iraq? I would certainly expect to to be, now that there is less emphasis on direct combat and more technology, and soldiers have the ability to stay in contact with their life back home for comfort (TLP presents this as a bad thing, but I am sure being reminded of your family and support on a daily basis is actually quite a comfort to a soldier a billion miles away in a desert).

And out of curiosity, how were the rates of PTSD for WW2 even assessed? Is that one of those things where they retroactively diagnose dead people, like all those abilify and seroquel sponsored pamphlets telling bored housewives that van gogh was bipolar too just like you?


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My thoughts exactly. If she... (Below threshold)

October 6, 2010 6:06 PM | Posted, in reply to someone's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

My thoughts exactly. If she's 24, then I'm 15.

She's also suffering a major case of butterface... but her body isn't even lady gaga standards so it's like, um, lady, what are you doing? You need clothes stat, and please get back on your lithium because this isn't cute.

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I think an issue w... (Below threshold)

October 6, 2010 6:13 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Phelps: | Reply

I think an issue with military suicides that we aren't picking up on is that the sort of person who joins the military often has preexisting mental instability, personal problems, or a lack of support. Who joins the military? Poor people, desperate people, people from shattered families, people with personal conflicts they hope to either escape or resolve through military training.

Your anecdotal evidence directly contradicts mine, and the statistics. First, all recruits have to be high school graduates with clear criminal histories, which eliminates a lot of the desperate and poor. Military regulations also prohibit enlisting anyone with "Neurotic, anxiety, mood, somatoform, dissociative, or factitious disorders" without a written waiver, and those are few and far between.

I see a lot of prejudice and assumptions in the comments here that don't reflect the reality of military service.

Most people in the military are there because it was their first choice, not their last.

Most people joining the military do so with a clear understanding of the benefits and drawbacks.

The person who enlists in the military (especially for a combat role like infantry) thinking that "it won't happen to me" is rare indeed. Yes, it has occurred to them, and if it hadn't I'm sure they know someone with 7+ college years who has stressed it to them over and over. They've weighed the risks, and assessed them differently in light of what they consider to be a higher calling.

Soldiers are not stupid, attempting to commit suicide by enlistment, or shambling to the recruitment office in desperation. The implication that they are is elitist, condescending, and insulting. They disagree with you. That doesn't make them stupid or ignorant.

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Hey phelps, did yo... (Below threshold)

October 6, 2010 6:21 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Phelps: | Reply

Hey phelps, did you ever consider the fact that WW2 was way more traumatizing than iraq?

Yes, I considered it. I ultimately decided that war is war. Also, since the evidence suggests that it's being on alert and in danger constantly more than the acute traumatic episodes (hence the original name "shell shock" from the constant bombardment of WW1) then war is war is war.

And out of curiosity, how were the rates of PTSD for WW2 even assessed?

It was casualty numbers, so that means it was WW2 soldiers removed from combat for battle fatigue vs GWOT soldiers removed from combat for PTSD. That's apples and apples. (Casualty means injured and unable to fight, not necessarily killed.) Dead people don't get to the "post" part of PTSD.

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Back to the original post, ... (Below threshold)

October 6, 2010 6:28 PM | Posted by Phelps: | Reply

Back to the original post, I've come back to:

"A large percentage of our servicemen, our veterans, do not come in to get help"

"They don't trust us. They believe we speak with forked tongues," Bradley said.

Given the preconceptions we've seen in this thread (soldiers are stupid, soliders are abnormal risk takers, soldiers all come from broken homes, soldiers enlist out of desperation) how much of this distrust comes from the emotions that the mental health people are demonstrating to the military?

If this bias is really this ingrained, then how can you treat someone that you are completely incapable of empathizing with? If you have a fundamental, basic failure to comprehend their most foundational beliefs, why should they come to you for treatment? Are they really right when they say that you speak with forked tongues? Why would you want to deal with someone who holds you in complete contempt?

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Coming back to Alone's comm... (Below threshold)

October 6, 2010 8:28 PM | Posted by Jack Coupal: | Reply

Coming back to Alone's comments about drug abuse stats. 25% admit to abusing painkillers, but 2% have a positive drug screen. The painkillers are theoretically only given for physical pain. Are military people abusing them to blunt emotional pain as well?

But, antidepressants are dispensed like candy, it sounds like antidepressants don't target whatever it is that PTSD is. That's the only type of drugs available, so use them. Pathetic.

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This is a load of crap.... (Below threshold)

October 6, 2010 10:02 PM | Posted, in reply to Phelps's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

This is a load of crap.

"Your anecdotal evidence directly contradicts mine, and the statistics. First, all recruits have to be high school graduates with clear criminal histories, which eliminates a lot of the desperate and poor. Military regulations also prohibit enlisting anyone with "Neurotic, anxiety, mood, somatoform, dissociative, or factitious disorders" without a written waiver, and those are few and far between."

1) Yes, services do screen out and out deviants - you need minimal education, you can't be flipping psychotic, and you can't have a criminal record. However, there is a BIG difference between "meeting minimum social fitness" and "being well adjusted". If you took a random civilian, odds are he or she is much better adjusted and has more opportunities than a random guy trying to join the army.

Regarding the mental health qualifications - it doesn't take a genius to fool a psychiatrist into saying you are mentally healthy. Unless you are floridly psychotic or severely depressed it's fairly easy to get a clean bill of health.

Everyone I know who joined the army did so because they didn't have any other options. They were poor, came from unstable family situations, and didn't know what to do with themselves. My father joined the army as soon as he was old enough. He grew up in an orphanage and was poor. My brother joined the marines. Like my father, he didn't know what to do with himself and was poor. NO BODY with options and a strong family joins the army. This is a macho fairytale you are telling yourself (that people in the services are as well adjusted as civilians and the army messes them up).

I'm tired of these armchair soldiers, macho fat old guys shedding patriotic tears for the 18 year old kids who join the army out of not having a fucking pot to piss in. Yea, I will accept there are some people who genuinely do want to join the military, but MOST OF THE TIME kids do this because they have no fucking idea what to do with their life and they are poor and the military is one of the few things they can conceive of doing. They cannot afford college, or alternatively are not acedemically cut out for college, or do not want to go to college, and have little in the way of a strong family structure to point them in the right direction.

No one says "hey, I know what I want to do when I grow up, I want to join the army, get yelled at all day and have my entire life regimented by my superiors, be shipped off to a fucking desert when I am 18 years old to commit violence against a bunch of strangers, have the threat of violence against me every minute of the day, all for a bunch of fat oil barons and corporations who own our government, while old men shed tears fantasizing about how manly and brave I am. That's the future for me!"

Yea, sure, that's what people say. That's why there are so many doctor's sons in the military, that's why lawyer's sons are in the military, right? Because this is where people go when they make a choice, because they have options.

FANTASY.

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Antidepressants don't help ... (Below threshold)

October 6, 2010 10:07 PM | Posted, in reply to Jack Coupal's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Antidepressants don't help anybody. They are placebos.

Painkillers, on the other hand, are very good medications for depression, so likely the soldiers are tossing the "antidepressants" (which help no one, and your chances of your depression resolving on its own is about as good as taking a SSRI) and instead using the oxycodone, codeine, and various other opiates which are highly effective treatments for depression. I know, I have depression. NOTHING helps depression like an opiate. Snap your fingers and your brain works again, the irrational misery melts away and you feel normal, the way you do when not depressed.

The SSRI medications truly are worthless, worthless placebos. Well maybe they are slightly better than being totally unmedicated, but they are not nearly as potent and effective for depression as an opiate.

It's unfortunate psychiatry is so piss scared of opiates, because that is the direction research needs to go when it comes to depression. The opiate system is at the heart of contentment, pleasure, what we would call "Happiness", opiates regulates the adrenal response (which makes it extra beneficial for PTSD and states of high alertness where there is a dramatic excessive activity of stress hormones)... literally opiates suppress excessive stress response, allow insomnia to ease, allow for sleep, where weary wired misery was you're filled in was a centered peace and contentment and excitement.

Opiates are the best medication for depression.

If civilian depressives could get their hands on pain meds as easily as soldiers, we would observe a similar phenomenon (patients flushing their lexapro down the crapper where it belongs, and instead just dosing up on codeine).

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Everyone I know wh... (Below threshold)

October 7, 2010 12:02 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Phelps: | Reply

Everyone I know who joined the army did so because they didn't have any other options. They were poor, came from unstable family situations, and didn't know what to do with themselves. My father joined the army as soon as he was old enough. He grew up in an orphanage and was poor. My brother joined the marines. Like my father, he didn't know what to do with himself and was poor. NO BODY with options and a strong family joins the army. This is a macho fairytale you are telling yourself (that people in the services are as well adjusted as civilians and the army messes them up).

I'm wondering now if you know anyone who joined up in the last 20 years. My grandfather joined for very different reasons than my uncle, who joined for very different reasons than his son. For my grandfather, it was exactly like you described -- four years in the service, or four years as a guest of the State of Texas. For my uncle, though, it was a calculated move (made at 20, not 18) -- he wanted to learn diesel mechanics, and he could either pay a school, or get paid to do it in the service. He chose the latter. It ended him up in Saudi Arabia during Desert Shield, with SCUDs landing around him. He didn't and doesn't regret the choice.

His son -- my cousin -- is serving now. He had choices, had good college options -- and he passed them up. He wanted to serve. It happens. It happens much more now than it did 20 or 50 years ago, with the smaller active duty force.

No one says "hey, I know what I want to do when I grow up, I want to join the army, get yelled at all day and have my entire life regimented by my superiors, be shipped off to a fucking desert when I am 18 years old to commit violence against a bunch of strangers, have the threat of violence against me every minute of the day, all for a bunch of fat oil barons and corporations who own our government, while old men shed tears fantasizing about how manly and brave I am. That's the future for me!"

Of course. They all say, "Hey, I know what I want to do when I grow up, I want to go to a liberal arts college, do a bunch of drugs, have promiscuous sex and maybe pick up herpes, end up on one side or the other of a couple of date rapes, protest a bunch of social injustices that I couldn't define with a talking points memo and a secret two-way to Wobblie HQ, and end up in debt for the next 20 years over a degree that isn't salable while a bunch of permanent-adolescent egghead PhDs tell me how proud they are of me." Right?

You act like there is something abnormal about being 18 and not knowing what you want to do with your life. I can't think of anything more normal for an 18 year old. The answer is definitely not "college" for far more young men and women than we as a society are ready to admit to.

Yea, sure, that's what people say. That's why there are so many doctor's sons in the military, that's why lawyer's sons are in the military, right? Because this is where people go when they make a choice, because they have options.

Actually, in the law firm I work at, there are quite a few lawyer's sons (and a couple of daughters) in the service.

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Look, I'm gonna say this on... (Below threshold)

October 7, 2010 1:29 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Look, I'm gonna say this one more time. MOST PEOPLE who join the army do so out of a LACK OF OPTIONS. The examples you give of people purposely making a choice to go into the army ARE EXCEPTIONS. Much like that one kid with downs syndrome who is able to work and support himself as an adult, it does not change the fact MOST people with downs syndrome have to live in assisted living facilities because they are mentally retarded and cannot take care of themselves.

There is no comparison between my caricature of a kid going into the army, and your illustration of a indulged college student. You are describing an extreme uncommon type of college student (and yes, I've met people like this, many of them, they are insufferable perma-adolescents useless to the world). MOST college students do their 4 years, get their degree, get a job, and that's it... sans rape and herpes and extended adolescences in Phd programs. On the other hand, MOST "joining the army" experiences are vaguely like what I said - "HI I'm 18, out of high school, and have no future, no money, and no one to show me what to do with my life, so I"m joining the fucking army... I'm not too fat, too retarded, or too crazy, so I fit the bill".


Oh. While on the subject of reckless sex and RAPE, I really wish you didn't go there, since you are defending the character of soldiers and all... but now it must be said since you brought it up. Soldiers rape people like all the fucking time.
I mean, aren't military bases with soldiers hotbeds of rape? Isn't it true anywhere a military base opens up, rape rates go through the roof? It's all those doctor's sons in the ranks, I'm sure, since joining the army is suuuch a great opportunity, right?
Certainly the ridiculous proclivity toward rape expressed by military service men can't have anything to do with the fact it's populated by poor young men with limited education limited intelligence, and a proclivity toward violence and antisocial behavior. Nope, future doctors and lawyers and well adjusted citizens in the ranks, and raping people apparently.

http://www.november.org/stayinfo/breaking2/RapeNation.html

"As a new officer in the Air Force who trusted the institution and the men she worked with, Dorothy Mackey didn't think she would ever be sexually assaulted by her fellow servicemen. She was wrong."


Oh noes. Antoine needs to tell people living near military bases: Hide your kids, hide your wife, etc.

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YOu know, after reading tha... (Below threshold)

October 7, 2010 1:50 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

YOu know, after reading that article, I am SO FUCKING DISGUSTED.

Hey! The rape problem in the military is SO FUCKING BAD that if you go to a military ob-gyn, HE JUST MIGHT FUCKING RAPE YOU! GREAT, YEA?

That is abso-frickin-lutely insane. That's some fucking africa jungle shit... something you hear about on the news happening in some third world war torn shithole... but nope, it totally happens in our military.

One of the proposed solutions for the problem of sexual abuse/rape in the military is to allow females to choose a female doctor. IF THE RAPE PROBLEM IS SO BAD that a licensed physician might rape you because he is such a fucking deviant with antosocial tendencies and the knowledge nothing will happen to him, then WE ARE WAY PAST the point where mild interventions are appropriate.

I can't even. I feel sick right now, puking in my mouth BRB...

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<a href="http://www.huffing... (Below threshold)

October 7, 2010 1:59 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ann-wright/with-its-record-of-rape-d_b_264980.html

"If the women of the Congo should Google, "U.S. military - sexual assault and rape," I suspect they will decline the offer of assistance from the African Command. 1 in 3 women in the U.S. military are sexually assaulted or raped. Women and girls in countries with U.S. military bases are raped by U.S. military. 8,000 U.S. Marines are being "re-located" from Okinawa in great measure because of citizen activist pressure following the numerous rapes of women and girls there. Prosecution rates in rape cases in the military are abysmal- 8% versus 40% in civilian cases. "


Fucking incredible.

Why do military servicemen kill themselves? Probably because military service self selects for unhinged antisocial deviants.

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I spent 5 years in and comp... (Below threshold)

October 7, 2010 11:06 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I spent 5 years in and completely agree. I would say also that this self selection becomes more noticable as you narrow in on combat arms professions such as the Infantry and Special Forces.

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The trend in suicides is fo... (Below threshold)

October 7, 2010 11:23 AM | Posted by RC: | Reply

The trend in suicides is for gays to be the VICTIMS of suicide. Our presence in a workforce (military or otherwise) doesn't promote it, as you appear to have suggested.

If I could get guys to kill themselves just by hitting on them, I would join the military and never have to use my gun, instead opting to flirt with enemy combatants.

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No reponse to my statements... (Below threshold)

October 8, 2010 12:44 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

No reponse to my statements about rape in the military? Pity.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y54yESyq6Io

Maybe the military could make an exception about their "no gays in the military" thing and allow antoine dodson to join... considering the problem with sexual abuse and rape, we need Mr Dodson to keep an eye on things.

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What the hell are you talki... (Below threshold)

October 8, 2010 9:08 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Harbor: | Reply

What the hell are you talking about?

I'm from a stable, loving family, and I joined the Army because
a) School money
b) Adventure
c) Patriotism
d) Family pride

I'm almost done w/ my bachelors degree, and I've seen combat. I'm not mentally unstable, poor, or any of those things. /Some/ people end up in the military (just like any field) who can't handle stress. I don't know who your friends are, but my friends in the military are some of the strongest, upright, honorable guys I know, and deal with stress really well.

You are not very well-informed.

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Anonymous, you're obviously... (Below threshold)

October 8, 2010 9:23 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Anonymous, you're obviously pretty biased about this. Have you thought about your sample size? How many people did you know? Two, three? Four? Five? Out of x million in the military?

My father, sister and myself all serve in the military. My father is a Java programmer for Sprint, pulling down an $85k salary. He joined the Reserves after 9/11 as a truck driver, because he loves his country and wanted to serve. I joined for similar reasons. My sister and her husband both serve in the Air Force. Both are attending college. Our family is very close. Almost everything you projected onto the military community (no doubt reflecting your own family life) is dead wrong.

Your comment about "no one with a healthy family chooses the military" is very insulting to me. I joined the Army of my own volition, and I love it. There's a lot more than physical hardship to military service. Camaraderie, brotherhood, adventure, the pride of living a disciplined life, loyalty to your fellow men.

I'm currently deployed (returning home in a few days actually), but on my first tour to Iraq in 2004, some of the best memories I have are doing aid missions to the villages around our FOB. Our engineer corps built seven schools for the area, as well as repaired ALL of their sewage infrastructure. We also paved all their roads their own people destroyed with IED's. I built relationships with the kids I'll never forget. It was one of the most impactful times of my life, I won't ever forget it.

You've never had to trust someone with your life *every day* so you don't have a clue what the military experience is like. No doubt you had a bad experience with your family members joining and now you're projecting it on the entire military. It's insulting to me, and insulting to everyone who CHOSE service to their country as a way of life.

Screw you.

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Anonymous, you're obviously... (Below threshold)

October 8, 2010 9:26 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Harbor: | Reply

Anonymous, you're obviously pretty biased about this. Have you thought about your sample size? How many people did you know? Two, three? Four? Five? Out of x million in the military?

My father, sister and myself all serve in the military. My father is a Java programmer for Sprint, pulling down an $85k salary. He joined the Reserves after 9/11 as a truck driver, because he loves his country and wanted to serve. I joined for similar reasons. My sister and her husband both serve in the Air Force. Both are attending college. Our family is very close. Almost everything you projected onto the military community (no doubt reflecting your own family life) is dead wrong.

Your comment about "no one with a healthy family chooses the military" is very insulting to me. I joined the Army of my own volition, and I love it. There's a lot more than physical hardship to military service. Camaraderie, brotherhood, adventure, the pride of living a disciplined life, loyalty to your fellow men.

I'm currently deployed (returning home in a few days actually), but on my first tour to Iraq in 2004, some of the best memories I have are doing aid missions to the villages around our FOB. Our engineer corps built seven schools for the area, as well as repaired ALL of their sewage infrastructure. We also paved all their roads their own people destroyed with IED's. I built relationships with the kids I'll never forget. It was one of the most impactful times of my life, I won't ever forget it.

You've never had to trust someone with your life *every day* so you don't have a clue what the military experience is like. No doubt you had a bad experience with your family members joining and now you're projecting it on the entire military. It's insulting to me, and insulting to everyone who FREELY CHOSE service to their country as a way of life.

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No reponse to my s... (Below threshold)

October 8, 2010 10:17 AM | Posted by Phelps: | Reply

No reponse to my statements about rape in the military? Pity.

"Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake."

-- Napoleon Bonaparte

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I don't know many people in... (Below threshold)

October 8, 2010 10:17 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I don't know many people in the military but all of those I do know went from being white power skinheads to joining the military. Not the brightest sparks all round. But that's the Canadian military, people who want to get a university education have more non-potentially-lethal options in Canada. A lot of poor or lower class Americans seem to join military because it's their only option. It doesn't make them stupid, it just makes them desperate. Just like desperate recruiters start letting standards slip to make their quotas as stories about recruiting tactics have shown again and again. Kind of sucks for the smart guy or gal who's trying to get an education to be stuck with the super losers who have no other options but have so far avoided jail.

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Here's an interesting resea... (Below threshold)

October 8, 2010 11:28 AM | Posted by 5thSBCTsurvivor: | Reply

Here's an interesting research project for all the people out there who continue to assume that they know what makes soldiers tick: Try to find records of all the suicides at Fort Lewis, WA from 2006-2009. This is kind of tricky because (naturally) the media consistently reports the living fuck out of ANYONE who has ever been REMOTELY CLOSE to combat who kills themselves. "The soldier, a cook with the blah-blah-blah unit was in Iraq for 12 months, and his wife says he had PTSD..." Ah, journalism at it's finest... But what you will have to work much harder to find is the majority of cases, which DON'T fit into our pre-conceived image of the "irreparably damaged warrior." So what IS the common demographic? At Ft. Lewis it was 18-24 year old male lower enlisted soldiers in combat arms jobs, primarily infantry. The vast majority of them were single soldiers living in barracks on-post- very few of them were married, and the ones that were had been married for less than 2 years and had no children. ALMOST ALL HAD NEVER DEPLOYED. More than that, you'll find that the same unit names will keep popping up again and again.

So, should we just keep believing what we're being fed? The romantic notion that most military suicides are cases of dedicated, yet fragile warriors, who gave everything, including their own emotional well-being in service of their country?

Or can we accept the fact that something is terribly fucking wrong in our military. Something that causes young men with no family, living far from home, who just happen to all have the same job, and work under the same chains of command, and all live nearly identical lives to kill themselves?

Here's one more fact that I haven't seen mentioned here yet: Soldiers do not kill themselves on weekdays. This is known and established throughout the Army, and hence the reason that suicide prevention is now a part of Friday safety briefings. Why the hell has noone asked the question: What is it that could so dramatically warp a person's mental health that they feel that they don't even have the right to choose when they die, because it might interfere with their work schedule?!

I'm no professional, but I have my theories, backed up by personal experience. Before anyone criticizes my comments here, please realize that I'm a former soldier who served at that base. I have stood outside a barracks window and heard the sound of a single gunshot as a young private redecorated his room with his brain matter. When someone your age, in virtually the same life circumstances as yours commits suicide in the building next door-- you pay attention. And when I paid attention, I learned that if we don't start taking action to change the QUALITY OF LIFE of these young men, suicide will only become more contagious amongst them.

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I'd suggest that there may ... (Below threshold)

October 8, 2010 12:22 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I'd suggest that there may be another reason why suicides happen on the weekends. It's not because soldiers wouldn't kill themselves when there's work to be done, it's for the same reason civilians kill themselves on their own time. People often use work or activity to avoid relaxing because once you relax you have less distractions from your emotions and thoughts. Outside of a military context these people would be called "workaholics" but it's the same thing for everyone, you feel your emotions more when you're relaxed (and getting high is a way to change how you feel). Killing other people isn't normal or natural for most humans, it's why we put so much effort into training people to actually do it (rather than aim past or over "the enemy").

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It's getting confusing tryi... (Below threshold)

October 8, 2010 1:59 PM | Posted by Jack Coupal: | Reply

It's getting confusing trying to keep all the Anonymous commenters on this blog straight. It helps me to know that Anonymous at 6PM is not the same Anonymous at 6AM.

Or, is it one person posting all the time to build up traffic?

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My theory on the weekend su... (Below threshold)

October 8, 2010 2:36 PM | Posted by 5thSBCTsurvivor: | Reply

My theory on the weekend suicides is:

1. Weekends alone in a shitty barracks room are the longest most miserable 2 days of your life-- when you have nothing positive in your life. To go to work for 5 days feeling alienated, hated, and alone, only to be rewarded with 2 days of feeling alienated, hated and alone in solitude is often too much for the guys to take. So essentially I'm agreeing with the anonymous poster below my comment to some extent. But...

2. There is also the element of the way one is perceived by others. If I hang myself in my room on tuesday night, the assholes I work with will let themselves into my room on wednesday morning when I don't show up for work. They will witness firsthand what I've done. But if I do it on a Friday night right after work, there's a much better chance that someone else will find me before monday. (most people have a roommate from a different unit)In which case people will find out about it tactfully.

I know that second part sounds retarded. But you have to realize that Cmdrs and 1st Sgts. like to give speeches about suicide prevention that stigmatize suicide. I quote: "suicide is a coward's way out...", "people who kill themselves aren't man enough to get help with their problems." (yeah, I realize that this is a whole other facet of the problem, but I'm not gonna go into that. haha) When you're living in a culture in which "suicide is for pussies"; it's easy to rationalize that having a stranger or roommate find your body is not as embarrassing as if "one of the guys" walks in on you strung up in your closet. That, to me, is a possible explanation of why many suicides happen on Friday night within 2 hours of getting off work-- not on Saturday or Sunday(when you would think the self-loathing would have reached it's peak no?)

Again, I'm no expert. Just a foul-mouthed former soldier who saw a lot of the guys around me take their own lives. I don't know how to say this without sounding sarcastic or distasteful, but I am literally thankful that I escaped my problems through alcohol when I was a young private. The story the statistics don't tell is that all those kids on pain pills and booze are still alive.

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An article about yet anothe... (Below threshold)

October 11, 2010 10:24 PM | Posted by Phelps: | Reply

An article about yet another study refuting the "enlistees are dumb, poor dupes joining up because they have no other opportunities" slander.

http://m.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/10/todays-army-smarter-richer-southern/

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Anyone else see the theme c... (Below threshold)

October 12, 2010 5:45 AM | Posted by The Devastator: | Reply

Anyone else see the theme connecting this post and "The Paycheck Cycle?"

"Military Suicides:"

Hence, the way to approach suicide prevention is to make suicidality/stress a rare, though entirely expected consequence of battle. Not to over analyze it, but to acknowledge it. In short, not to pathologize it, but to mainstream it: "Yeah, me too."

"Paycheck:"

The solution that the system has conditioned you to believe is the answer is to give them something. The political divide differs only on what to give them: outright cash payments? Jobs?

What you need to focus on is the why. Solving this isn't a simple matter of raising the food benefit by an amount equivalent to one more day. The system needs to educate the poor on how to live life as a poor person.

I'm getting fechlempt. Discuss.

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Hmm. I'm wondering why TLP ... (Below threshold)

October 13, 2010 3:22 PM | Posted by Sarah G: | Reply

Hmm. I'm wondering why TLP goes from "One" to "Third". It seems to me our 24-40 YOA army wife belongs to "One".

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What did you do in the mili... (Below threshold)

October 14, 2010 7:47 AM | Posted, in reply to Harbor's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

What did you do in the military? I spent 5 in the infantry and I can tell you that a vast majority of the people I served with, and later had to manage, were not well off, mentally astute, or emotionally grounded. The few who were I befriended, but this was a very small percentage of the population I worked with.

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I never met one person who ... (Below threshold)

October 14, 2010 8:00 AM | Posted, in reply to Phelps's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I never met one person who joined for "patriotic" reasons in the infantry. That's not to say that maybe other jobs do have a high rate of people joining for that reason, but it is to say that the most dangerous job you could select does have a non-existent rate for that reason. Usually it had to do with debt, legal issues, ingorance (and this one always blew me away) of what the infantry did, or to "kill some terrorists" which I later came to believe meant "I wanted to kill someone and see what its like, but not get in legal trouble."

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<a href="http://www.... (Below threshold)

November 2, 2010 2:08 AM | Posted by coach handbags: | Reply


asics running

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Phelps, a few points of not... (Below threshold)

November 2, 2010 5:32 PM | Posted, in reply to Phelps's comment, by Jason: | Reply

Phelps, a few points of note.

1. A clear criminal history is not required for enlistement in the Armed Services. I have personally served with members of the US Army, Navy and Marine Corps who all received what are called "Moral Waivers". These can be issued for most minor crimes or histories of drug use.

2. The same is applicable to people with history of mental instability. I know of several individuals who received medical waivers, prior to enlistment, during basic military training, and who were approved for reenlistment with varying mental illnesses. One of these individuals in particular was allowed to continue service, but denied access to all levels of classified information, and was required to pay back her signing bonus due to her inability to fulfill all requirements for the specialty code she had received the bonus for.

3. Above and beyond both of those, go talk to a few recruiters. Ask them frankly if they've ever encouraged, or know of anyone who encouraged a recruit to stretch the truth on an enlistment application regarding anything. Sadly, it's not an uncommon practice, especially in areas where quotas can be difficult to meet, or if local regulations make a waiver difficult to obtain.

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I am a Vietnam era PTSD pat... (Below threshold)

August 30, 2012 12:12 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I am a Vietnam era PTSD patient. I never saw combat. I was on a ship. My descent into near catatonia took place over 2 1/2 years on the ship. Sleep deprivation and other stressors wore me down until I lost the use of my facial muscles, for example, and an inability to function. I am receiving disability and medical treatment from the VA. They have me on a large regimen of psych medications that have given me a synthetic will to live. It's better than wanting to die all the time and they have been my life saving heroes. Before you finally self destruct, at least go there and get help. It took me many years to get my regimen of drugs correct to live in a state of neutrality about a self death wish and an ability to feel happiness. I can't work from chronic fatigue and my mind deteriorates too fast under any stress to work a job, but I'm treading water and being a decent husband, father and grandfather. You have to keep at them with complaints to get the meds combo that work for you. It is the government, after all, but the pharmacy has a bottomless pit filled with pharmaceuticals. Keep trying out different meds until you get it right. The chances of getting the exact cocktail right the first time is slim, but keep learning and trying different meds til you can function. Good luck. God loves you.

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PS. Addition to my previous... (Below threshold)

August 30, 2012 11:40 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

PS. Addition to my previous comment. How to complain to the VA. If you aren't getting anywhere with phone calls, WRITE A PAPER LETTER!!! Be brief,respectful, and exact in your problem. This gives them a running record of your difficulties and that letter will circulate until it reaches the desk of a true decision maker, not just whatever secretary that answers the phone. If this fails, write your congressman. Again-WRITE A PAPER LETTER!!! Emails and the like are not good enough. Be brief, respectful, and exact in your problem.

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It's not just that we know ... (Below threshold)

April 22, 2013 10:47 PM | Posted, in reply to dfp's comment, by clintiskeen: | Reply

It's not just that we know that the Pentagon lies, we know they ask us to be complicit in the lies. We know the lies are everywhere because they have us tell them. There is an old saying in the army, if you really want to know what's going on, ask a private. The reason is they are young enough in army culture they actually still believe things like "we're from the government, we're here to help"

The specialist knows to answer with whatever lie his platoon sergeant would want him to answer with, the sergeant repeats whatever lie his platoon sergeant told him to give, and the platoon sergeant sat around with two other platoon sergeants and a first sergeant working on what lie to tell.

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