Creating suicide warriors

The Washington Post reports that in 2007 there were a record number of suicides among active-duty soldiers since records were first kept in 1980. At 127, this is a small fraction of the overall number of active-duty soldiers, but in context:

At the same time, the number of attempted suicides or self-inflicted
injuries in the Army has jumped sixfold since the Iraq war began. Last
year, about 2,100 soldiers injured themselves or attempted suicide,
compared with about 350 in 2002, according to the U.S. Army Medical
Command Suicide Prevention Action Plan.

What makes them do it?

Ritchie's team conducted more than 200 interviews in the United States
and overseas, and found that the common factors in suicides and
attempted suicides include failed personal relationships; legal,
financial or occupational problems; and the frequency and length of
overseas deployments. [italics mine]

Occupational problems? I don't have the study, so I can only wonder what it says, but being surrounded by the chaos of the Iraq effort seems like an occupational problem. Following standard operating procedure by firing at sources of enemy fire, even when civilians are present, would be an occupational problem that would seriously disrupt someone's mental health.

I've seen guys come back from Iraq without problems, and I've seen guys come back who had definitely been messed up by the experience. They weren't all dangers to themselves and others, to be sure. Most of them will turn out fine after some readjustment.

But something over there is making more soldiers kill or attempt to kill themselves more than any time in the last 27 years. Previous attempts to address the problem seem hollow:

Staff Sgt. Gladys Santos, an Army medic who attempted suicide after
three tours in Iraq, said the Army urgently needs to hire more
psychiatrists and psychologists who have an understanding of war. "They
gave me an 800 number to call if I needed help," she said. "When I come
to feeling overwhelmed, I don't care about the 800 number. I want a
one-on-one talk with a trained psychiatrist who's either been to war or
understands war."

Santos, who is being treated at Walter Reed, said the only effective therapy she has received there in the past year have been the one-on-one sessions with her psychiatrist, not the group sessions in which soldiers are told "Don't hit your wife, don't hit your kids," or the other groups where they play bingo or learn how to
properly set a table.

The Army is about de-personalization. That's the point of a uniform. They would be doing themselves and their recruits a service to emphasize this.

They might also question the value of a mission that destroys the people who perform it.

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"Occupational

"Occupational problems?"

What fantastic potential for punning.

About that rate

How does the percentage compare to that of men their age as a whole?

Military Suicides

Gateway Pundit has some data on this. Gateway Pundit's figures are for all military, while the WaPo article refers to just Army suicides.