Thursday, March 31, 2011

Another Soldiers Suicide

 A Father is calling for changes in how military officials handle depression after his son committed suicide in Afghanistan on his fourth deployment in a war zone.

David H. Senft said he still blames himself after his son, Staff Sergeant David P. Senft, killed himself on the Kandahar Air Force Base in Afghanistan with a single gunshot wound to the head.
“I wasn’t there when he needed me, and now it’s too late for him,” David said.
The 27-year-old helicopter repairman, assigned to the 101st Airborne Division, left behind an unsent text message on his cell phone after taking his life with his roommate’s stolen gun.
“I don’t know what say, I’m so sorry,” the message read.
Staff Sergeant Senft, a father, had already attempted suicide twice, received treatment at a mental hospital and had been stripped of his own firearm for his own safety, but was still cleared for active duty.
  His grieving father says military officials knew about Staff Sergeant Senft’s severe depression and should have kept him from staying in the war zone.
“They knew his history at Fort Campbell and they felt that he was suicidal enough to take his weapon away. Why didn't they send him home at that moment?” David asked.
  U.S. military suicides in Afghanistan have soared in recent years, even topping deaths in combat in some months.David said he hopes his son’s story will help save someone else’s child from the mental effects of combat.
   Staff Sergeant Senft is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. The Army has opened three separate investigations into his death, but his death is still officially listed as “non-combat related.”

This next story is of females who commit suicide in the military.

The findings, released to USA TODAY this week, show that the suicide rate rises from five per 100,000 to 15 per 100,000 among female soldiers at war. Scientists are not sure why but say they will look into whether women feel isolated in a male-dominated war zone or suffer greater anxieties about leaving behind children and other loved ones.
  Even so, the suicide risk for female soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan is still lower than for men serving next to them, the $50 million study says.Findings also show that marriage somehow helps inoculate male and female soldiers from killing themselves while they are overseas. Although these death rates among GI's who are single or divorced double when they go to war, the rate among married soldiers does not increase, according to the study.
  Scientists say they hope these and other findings will help them tease out protective social patterns — such as, for example, that sense in a marriage of mattering to someone else — that can be encouraged or instilled in all soldiers to lower the risk of suicide.
  "One of the big things we're interested in now is digging into this marriage thing and saying, 'What is it you get, by being married? And how could we put it in a bottle so we can give it to everybody, whether or not they're married?" says Ronald Kessler, a psychiatric epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School who is working on the project.
  A goal of the five-year research effort, led by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), is to identify categories of soldiers most at risk for suicide. The Army suicide rate has more than doubled since 2004 from 10 per 100,000 to 22 per 100,000 among active-duty soldiers, surpassing the rate for civilians of the same age and gender.
  Last year, when National Guard and reservists data are included, an average of 25 soldiers killed themselves each month. This first slice of data from the study, drawn from Army records on 389 active-duty suicides between 2004 and 2008, is only a small piece of a sweeping research effort that will eventually include tracking between 30,000 and 50,000 soldiers from basic training onward, says Philip Wang, NIMH deputy director. He said the project could rival in significant the historic Framingham Heart study initiated in 1948 which uncovered causes of heart disease. Results of the Army suicide study would be valuable in preventing these deaths in the civilian world, says Thomas Insel, NIMH director.
Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the Army vice chief of staff, says he will begin to notify commanders of these initial findings immediately.
"I want to get this out in the hands of my guys so they can start using it and drawing their own conclusions. We'll give them as much as we can whenever we get it, and not wait until it's peer-reviewed and ... published in The New England Journal of Medicine." Chiarelli says. "I'm going to keep beating up on the researchers to give me more and more and more."

Other findings:

•Suicide rates among men increase from 15 per 100,000 to 21 per 100,000 when they deploy to Iraq or Afghanistan.
• Soldiers of Asian descent have dramatically higher suicide rates than other racial groups. Their risk is double or triple that of other soldiers, and four times higher in the war zone.

War is bad enough, especially when we are not 100% certain why we are there. These stories concern me very much as a veteran, and as a human being. Write your councilman and tell them of your concern of our soldiers mental health. We need to treat these individuals before it is too late.         theblogmeister

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.