Military Suicide…by the numbers

Military Suicide…by the numbers

May 26, 2010

** More than 2 million have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan

** 40% served at least two tours

** 300,000 troops have served three, four, or more tours

** The number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who are being treated as PTSD patients by the VA has increased from 134,000 in June 2009 to 143,530 reported in Jan 2010 (This only includes those who have admitted that they need treatment. For those afraid to seek help due to the associated stigma, we were unable to include their count)

** The number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans’ claims against the VAapproved for PTSD claims increased from 59,000 in June to 67,052 reported in November (This only includes veterans who filed claims. For those afraid to seek help due to the associated stigma, we were unable to include their count)

** It is estimated that the country may see a total of one million patients suffering with PTSD at a total price tag of $1 trillion and rising

** A 2009 report of Army troops in Afghanistan found that the rate of psychological problems rose significantly with the number of deployments – 31% for three tours Psychiatrists estimate the one in three US soldiers who served in Iraq or Afghanistan may develop PTSD (We must estimate because for those afraid to seek help due to the associated stigma, we were unable to include their count.)

** 20% of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan will suffer from PTSD or severe depression and only 50% of these veterans will get the treatment they need.

** 18 Veterans commit suicide everyday.

** The Army had 21.7 suicides per 100,000, its highest rate since the Vietnam War.

** In 2009, the Army suffered 160 suspected or confirmed suicides.

** The Marine Corps lost more troops to suicide than combat in Afghanistan last year.

** 41 Marines took their own lives in 2008. One of them was my son’s roommate, teammate, and friend.

** 52 Marines took their own lives in 2009, including 11 who did so while deployed. One of them was from my hometown and attended the same high school as my son.

** In 2009, the Marine Corps reported the highest suicide rate (24 per 100,000) among the Armed Forces.

24 per 100,000….. The Marine Corps would have you focus on the fact that 99,976 of those 100,000 Marines did NOT take their lives. That is correct, however, there are 24 grieving families that will never get another chance to say “I Love You” to their Marine. They won’t spend another Christmas with him. They won’t ever get a chance to say “Happy Birthday”. Holidays will always be stained with pain. Life will go on, but it just won’t feel like it used to before he took his life.

So who really understands the ramifications of multiple deployments and the reality of stigma for those seeking help for PTSD? Would you say it’s the leadership in our Armed Forces or would you say that it’s the family members of those who lost their lives to the Invisible Wounds of War? For each one who is gone, how many people are likely affected in a painful way? Ten people? Twenty people? Fifty people?

The numbers for suicide are not yet determined for 2010. We’ve still got seven long months before we can close this year out, but the numbers are growing every week and it’s become personal again this year.

Please take some time to familiarize yourself with the symptoms and warning signs of PTSD. Once they leave military service, our veterans live amongst us. They have stood in the gap for freedom for each of us. Shouldn’t we be ready to give our veterans the needed support and encouragement when the time comes that they ask for help? YES! So get busy and start learning how to do that.

Originally published by the author on

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