Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Suicide rate of US soldiers in Iraq

Osama Bin Laden and Al Quaida in Iraq make a big deal about the US soldier rate of suicide in Iraq which is about 10.5 per 100,000 in 2004, 19.9 per 100,000 in 2005 and probably higher in 2006. They claim it is their successes which is hurting the morale of US soldiers which is the cause. The trouble is that morale has been consistently high in the US military in Iraq, and Al Quaida's successes are laughable. Since 9/11, Al Quaida has lost their main sanctuary in Afghanistan, and they are clawing for survival even in Iraq and Pakistan. Stress is a recognized factor in suicide, but the stress leading to suicide may not be combat related. Tina Priest recently committed suicide after she was raped by a fellow soldier and placed on antidepressants. What may be an ignored significant source of suicide in Iraq is boredom. What people miss who use headline news as their window into soldiers' lives in Iraq is that the bulk of the time many soldiers spend in Iraq is in boredom. In many cases, the boredom is associated with being forced to stay in one place with no form or variation of mental diversion which then becomes akin to being stuck in a prison cell. With some people, this causes inner issues to come to the fore of their mind and can become consuming. It doesn't take war to drive people to suicide. Countries like Japan and Finland have higher rates of suicide which even leaves out a poor economy as a cause, and if you just count men, which the military still predominently consists of, far more countries have even higher rates of suicide. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_suicide_rate. Countries like South Korea whose high competition in education has been known to cause high rates of suicide among students whose greatest woe was a slump in grades or test scores. This doesn't mean that the increase in suicide rates in the US military in Iraq should be ignored, but no credence should be given to the reasons our enemies give for it.

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