Alex Swim
Civics B

TIME Magazine (One A Day)
The Insidious Enemy: Why the Pentagon is Losing the War Against Military Suicide
Mark Thompson and Nancy Gibbs
Pages 23-31
July 23, 2012

Since the Afghan war began after 9/11 in 2001, more soldiers have died of suicide than in the war itself. On average, every day, one soldierís life is lost to suicide. As the 11-year anniversary of 9/11 approaches, we still see the percentage of military deaths caused by suicide rising. In 2011, 20% of deaths in the military were caused by suicide, trailing only one other cause, death by combat. By June of this year, that rate had already risen by 18%. With 4% of the Pentagonís $53 billion annual medical bill, approximately $2,120,000,000, allocated to mental health, one question is still without an answer: Why canít the military win the war against suicide? The amount of military suicides is at record levels, but the causes are still very unclear. Most of the victims are white enlisted men under the age of 25. The most assumed cause would be Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from combat-related events, but only 11% of the victims had combat history during a deployment to either Iraq or Afghanistan. Of those 11%, only 8% had witnessed killing during combat. In the article, two widows of military men who committed suicide speak of the signs their husband gave (or didnít give) leading up to their suicide. Both of the widowsí husbands had tried to utilize the mental health resources that the Army provides, such as their baseís psychiatrist and a 24/7 hotline specifically for military personnel, but their cases were put on a back-burner. One of the men was put on hold for hours on the hotline, while the other was just given sleeping pills. Out of desperation and concern, one of the women went to her husbandís boss and voiced her concern, and the boss insisted that it was marital problems, not problems with the Army. With the military mental health system clearly not working, new revisions are being sought. Army psychiatrists are being faced with the facts, and are needing to face the problems upfront, giving the right diagnosis and treatment. The treatment is not the only thing that needs to be thought about though; nearly 50% of the soldiers who committed suicide had received behavioral-health therapy, but it had failed. The victims are buried with full honors, but a cause is still being sought after to determine why so many of our nationís finest take their own lives.
Reading about the demise of our nationís servicemen is a truly heartbreaking thing for me. With many servicemen in my family and close to me, I feel strongly about the protection and well-being of those who put their lives on the line to protect our freedoms as Americans. Saying I ďlikedĒ the article would be the improper word, but more-so, I appreciated the article. The article showed the cold truth about a subject that so many people give the cold shoulder to. Not only does the article give numbers, facts, but it also gives an emotional side to the matter by giving two victimís stories through the words of their lovers. Personally, I believe that the matter of suicide is pushed aside too easily. People too often say, ďThis person is no danger to himself or anyone else,Ē and then itís just a matter of time before that person has harmed themselves, and another innocent life is taken. For anyone who has thought this, reading this article should really open their eyes about the war that is suicide. Hopefully, this article will prompt people to take action and help possible victims. These men risk their lives to protect our rights as American citizens, so it should be our duty to help these men overcome their depression and thoughts of harming themselves. The authors of this article clearly show us that we should be concerned about these warriors and the war they face. Any movement could be one step closer to determining a possible cause as to why these men feel it necessary to take their own lives. America needs to protect its heroes, which is made very evident by this eye-opening article.