US military struggling to stop suicide epidemic among war veterans

Last year, more active-duty soldiers killed themselves than died in combat. And after a decade of deployments to war zones, the Pentagon is bracing for things to get much worse

An excerpt from the article:

For William Nash, a retired Navy psychiatrist who directed the marine corps’ combat stress control programme, William Busbee’s expressions of torment are all too familiar. He has worked with hundreds of service members who have been grappling with suicidal thoughts, not least when he was posted to Fallujah in Iraq during the height of the fighting in 2004.

He and colleagues in military psychiatry have developed the concept of “moral injury” to help understand the current wave of self-harm. He defines that as “damage to your deeply held beliefs about right and wrong. It might be caused by something that you do or fail to do, or by something that is done to you – but either way it breaks that sense of moral certainty.”

Contrary to widely held assumptions, it is not the fear and the terror that service members endure in the battlefield that inflicts most psychological damage, Nash has concluded, but feelings of shame and guilt related to the moral injuries they suffer.… Read more

Fifty troops commit suicide after Iraq and Afghanistan tours

More than 50 members of the UK Armed Forces have committed suicide since serving in the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, figures suggest.

In an indication of the toll the conflicts may have taken on the mental health of servicemen and women, the data reveals that eight took their own lives during a deployment itself, while the other 42 killed themselves at some point afterwards.

More than half of those who took their lives later – 23 of the 42 – committed suicide on Ministry of Defence (MoD) property, mainly in the UK.

The figures, released to the Daily Telegraph under Freedom of Information legislation, show that six British forces members killed themselves while serving in Iraq and two did so while serving in Afghanistan.

The Mental Health Foundation said young veterans were twice as likely to take their own life as their peers, and argued more help could be provided to them.

Simon Lawton-Smith, head of policy, said: “Combat puts great pressures on our fighting forces and this can have significant psychological impact both at the time and in the days, months and years following.

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