Study finds troops sent to exile try suicide more often

| May 2, 2022

More work from the desk of Captain Obvious. Jeff LPH 3 sends in this Military Times article;

Troops stationed at remote and overseas bases attempted suicide at slightly higher rates but were less often successful compared to the general active-duty military population, according to findings in a new Government Accountability Office report.

Nearly 19% of all suicide attempts occured at those bases, but only 10% of suicide deaths, the federal watchdog found. The remote facilities may have higher suicide risk factors, such as social isolation and less access to mental health services, but troops at overseas bases also often lack the same access to personal firearms, which are used in the majority of military suicides.

However, the Pentagon has not fully assessed those suicide risks, and that process could help reduce such deaths, the GAO said in the report mandated by Congress. The report listed more than 50 installations that are overseas or considered remote, including Fort Wainwright, Alaska; Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; and Naval Air Facility Misawa, Japan.

The findings come amid a spike in troops taking their own lives at isolated bases in Alaska, as well as a string of suicides among the crew of the dry-docked aircraft carrier USS George Washington.

In March, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered an independent commission to look at suicides at three Alaska bases; Camp Humphreys, South Korea, the largest overseas U.S. military base; and other key bases inside the U.S., such as Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

Lawmakers ordered the GAO to look into suicides at remote and overseas bases in 2020 following a 33.5% increase in the deaths over the previous four years.

Between 2016 and 2020, 1,806 active-duty troops took their own lives across all duty stations, while an additional 7,178 attempted suicide, according to the GAO.

Navy and Marine Corps suicide prevention officials told investigators that some of the risk factors included social isolation. In the case of some duty stations in Japan, officials said it can be difficult for service members to engage with the local culture.

And wait for it…You know it’s coming…The Second Amendment is to blame.

Easy access to guns accounts for the majority of suicides in the force. Overwhelmingly, weapons used in suicides are not issued by the military — roughly 95% are personally owned.

Gun safety and proper storage have been given increased attention in recent years, both from the Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs, in an effort to give those with suicidal thoughts time to cool down.

Now returning to the real issues faced by those in remote assignments.

Isolation and a lack of mental health resources have been blamed for the recent surge in suicides in Alaska.

Maj. Gen. Brian Eifler, head of U.S. Army Alaska, told Military.com in March that he is struggling to hire mental health professionals, given the difficulties in convincing them to relocate to Alaska. Troops interviewed by Military.com said a first appointment with a mental health counselor can take at least two weeks — and a month or longer, in some cases.

Category: "The Floggings Will Continue Until Morale Improves", Big Pentagon, DC Government, Disposable Warriors, Second Amendment

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HT3

1,800+…way too many. I can say I had a few rough days in my 4 years, but never, ever had any destructive thoughts.
I never heard anybody talk about anything like that either. We had a few go UA and even reach deserter status.

Green Thumb

Heard a while back from a DoD think tank that suicides were actually the highest in NG and Reserve Units that have never deployed.

Odd stat in many ways.

ninja

This is for you, Mason.

3 minutes well worth watching.

Prior Service

Mason, volunteering is the minimum standard. Most don’t—You did. Drive on.

ChipNASA

Mason,
Glad I’m not the only one here with the same feelings.
My best friend, ( I was his first sponsor as an E-4 and we were teammates almost 20 years) a Chief said to me, “Chip, you can’t change what didn’t happen.”
He was gonna be a 30+ year career Chief. but he deployed to Afghanistan, got thrown under the bus by our own officer corps who deployed with him, Returnd home broken and disillusioned, put his paperwork in and retired inside of six months.
For all the PTSD and trauma that I see in my own troops now that did deploy when I didn’t , I’m conflicted, even more.

Last edited 1 month ago by ChipNASA
Sapper3307

GITMO looks like Heaven on Earth compared to some places.

SFC D

Camp Humphreys is exile? I was there 88-90, and it was hardly exile.

Hondo

Bingo. Even several years earlier, I heard Korea called “the Army’s Disneyland”. With the possible exception of the 2ID, that characterization was IMO pretty much spot on.

A Proud Infidel®™

I was in the 2ns ID Western Corridor 92-93 and we saw anything South of Seoul as Shangri-la!

Anonymous

Well, it ain’t Yongsan/Itaewon… plus having everybody penned-up in there is like Ft. Hood.

Last edited 1 month ago by Anonymous
A Proud Infidel®™

Plus half the tour being spent out in the field!

ninja

Well, has a study ever been done on this?

“What The DoD Doesn’t Want You To Know:
50 Shocking Military Homicides In The Last 30 Years (As Of 23 March 2018).

Article also covers 1970, 1980, 1985, 1986 and 1987. Additionally, there were Military homicides/suicides occuring before 1970. The real sad ones are Military Members murdering their spouses and/or children….especially the children.

https://militaryjusticeforall.com/tag/laura-vickery-clay/

Still think these “Studies” are politically driven…or a CYA for Commands. Alot of us on this Blog have served in those “exiled” areas mentioned…we are still here.

Now wondering if ANY group has studied the suicide rate within the First Responder community to include LEOs and Firefighters or with Medical Professionals as well as Politicians, Athletes, Musicians (recent is Naomi Judd), Artists, Chefs, Engineers, Scientists, Educators, etc. etc.

Mental illness is a terrible disease and affects ALL walks of life.

ninja

We still remember Soldiers trying to kill themselves while we were at the Reception Station…AND while we were in Basic Training…AND AIT…

Don’t remember how any of us were “medically” evaluated for any signs of mental illness before we raised our right hand, but it is obvious that some folks do get into the Military system even though they may be struggling with depression/personality disorders/mental illness.

We feel those “studies” will still not prevent or stop Military individuals from committing suicide or murdering others.

ninja

There are always exception.

Had a relative who was not only a LEO, but also served as a Medic in the US Army.

He hid his depression with jokes, laughter, Christianity.

He took his life without any explanation as to why he made that decision.

Had another relative who spoke frequently about taking her life. She was open about her depression and her struggles with being Bipolar with family.

She sought help thru medication, counseling…she still made the decision to end her life.

Naomi Judd wrote a book about her struggles with mental illness and was very open about it. She still took her life.

Mental Illness is a very terrible disease.

ninja

We still remember this poem from High School:

“Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.”

“And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
“Good-morning,” and he glittered when he walked.”

“And he was rich – yes, richer than a king
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.”

“So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer
night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.”

A Proud Infidel®™️

And I, I work in his factory,
And I curse the life I’m living,
And I curse my poverty,
And I wish that I could be,
Oh yeah I wish that I could be,
Richard Cory

That’s the refrain from the song by Simon & Garfunkel as best as I can remember it.

President Elect Toxic Deplorable Racist SAH Neande

I was overseas and unaccompanied tours enough……I can’t say what others were feeling and doing that caused them to take a permanent solution to a temporary problem. But one thing I can say is that everywhere I went, I tried to make some exuse, ANY excuse, to get out of the barracks, get off post and go out on “the economy”, even if I barely understood the language.
Unlike some barracks rats that never went anywhere, never did anything, but go from their work, to their room, to the E Club to get drunk (if allowed), then back to their room to sleep it off.
That’s what pissed me off the most about my year in Saudi. I arrived the day after the Kohbar Tower bombing, and we were all in lockdown in our compounds. (driving back and forth from compound to compound for duty doesn’t count).

Orange jumpsuit? Back and forth to work and barracks sux.

I joined the army because I wanted to see Germany. Mostly I got to see it from the back of a deuce-and-a-half or the hatch of an M113. Seems that only 10% of personnel could be absent at any time; that included leave, hospitalization, overnight passes, etc. Fortunately I was able to issue myself my own virtual overnight passes or I would never have seen anything of Germany but trees and mud. This was all pre-terrorism so perimeter security was a joke.

timactual

Could have been worse; there were (are?) a surprising number of locations in Germany entitled to Foreign Duty pay.

rgr769

I really enjoyed my fifteen months in Germany unaccompanied. Except we were on duty six days a week in garrison and seven days a week at Graf or Baumholder. I had ten days leave to travel Southern Germany with my Norwegian girlfriend in March, 1970.

A Proud Infidel®™️

At the same time I also wonder how many had Superiors into their CoC or NCO Support chains that ignored the warning signs and told them to keep going? I remember during my AD years when seeking Mental Health Assistance got one blacklisted on assignments.

Anonymous

Still, if one is “medically unfit” to enlist, reenlist or deploy… not much changes.

KoB

I think that folks who want to kill themselves will do so no matter where they are…or what they do it with. Sad for their family members and friends left behind.