The number of suicides committed in the U.S. Army continues to grow. As many as 121 servicemen committed suicide in 2007, which marked the increase of more than 20 percent as opposed to 2006.
Suicides continue to overshadow the army service in the United States despite numerous efforts taken during the recent years to improve the mental state of American servicemen. Many of them make a decision to bid farewell to this world because of the never-ending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Eighty-nine suicides were confirmed in 2007, whereas 32 deaths were suspected suicides still under investigation, documents from the Army’s psychiatry consultant said.
More than a quarter of those U.S. soldiers committing suicide decided to end their lives being no longer able to stand the war in Iraq. The report also indicates an increase in the number of attempted suicides and self-inflicted injuries – about 2,100 in 2007 compared to less than 1,500 in the previous year.
The total of 121 suicides last year, if all are confirmed, would be double the 52 reported in 2001, before the Sept. 11 attacks prompted the Bush administration to launch its counter-terror war.
Officials said the rate of suicides per 100,000 active duty soldiers has not yet been calculated for 2007. But in a half million-person active duty Army, the 2006 toll of 101 translated to a rate of 17.5 per 100,000, the highest since the Army started counting in 1980, officials said. The rate has fluctuated over those years, with the low being 9.1 per 100,000 in 2001, the AP reports.
Most likely, soldiers commit suicide over their inability to cope with symptoms of the so-called Gulf War Syndrome. It is an illness reported by combat veterans of the 1991 Persian Gulf War typified by symptoms including immune system disorders and birth defects. It is not clear whether these symptoms were the consequence of Gulf War service, or if the occurrence of illnesses in Gulf War veterans is higher than comparable populations.
Symptoms attributed to this syndrome have been wide-ranging, including chronic fatigue, loss of muscle control, headaches, dizziness and loss of balance, memory problems, muscle and joint pain, indigestion, skin problems, shortness of breath, and even insulin resistance. Brain cancer deaths, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease) and fibromyalgia are now recognized by the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments as potentially connected to service during the Gulf War.
Since the end of the Gulf War, the United States Veteran Administration and the British Ministry of Defense have conducted numerous studies on Gulf War Veterans. The latest studies have determined that while the physical health of deployed veterans is similar to that of non-deployed veterans, there is an increase in 4 out of the 12 medical conditions reportedly associated with Gulf War syndrome (fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, eczema, and dyspepsia.) They have also concluded that while mortality was significantly higher in deployed veterans, most of the increase was due to automobile accidents rather than disease. This excess mortality was consistent with patterns of postwar mortality among veterans of previous wars, and was nonexistent after seven years.
Many U.S. veterans of the 2003 Iraq War have reported a range of serious health issues, including tumors, daily blood in urine and stool, sexual dysfunction, migraines, frequent muscle spasms, and other symptoms similar to the debilitating symptoms of "Gulf War Syndrome" reported by many veterans of the 1991 Gulf War, which some believe is related to the continued United States' use of radioactive depleted uranium.