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maybe 23 US military suicides in Iraq(15 posts)

maybe 23 US military suicides in Iraqzeke
Nov 12, 2003 5:27 AM
by Robert Fisk
I read the info below (an excerpt from the Fisk article) and was shocked. I then proceeded to search for the story on American media (print and non) via the net and was further shocked that it was not reported. After asking others if they had heard this news, and hearing that they had not, I have become upset.

Has anyone here heard of this, in particular, outside of the Fisk article ?


The Independent
October 26, 2003

Suicides among US troops in Iraq have risen in recent months - up to three times the usual rate among American servicemen. At least 23 soldiers are believed to have taken their lives since the Anglo-American invasion and others have been wounded in attempting suicide. As usual, the US army only revealed this statistic following constant questioning.
I hadn't heard of it until I looked,TJeanloz
Nov 12, 2003 6:20 AM
Reuters reported the number at 13 on October 16, but there hasn't been any mention of it since. It was reported in that article that a handful of those hadn't intended to kill themselves, only cause an injury sufficient to be sent home (i.e., they shot themselves in the leg and died from the complications). It was also reported that the normal rate of suicide in the military was around 12/100,000 annually.

I would imagine that being in Iraq is more stressful than average military life, so it doesn't shock or upset me that the suicide rate is running higher than average.
So, the "normal" rate is 8 per 125,000 ?????MR_GRUMPY
Nov 12, 2003 6:41 AM
I thought that the suicide rate for even the non-military population was higher than that.
Does anyone have the numbers for the general population ????
Keep in mind,TJeanloz
Nov 12, 2003 6:51 AM
Because it seems to me that any newspaper called "the Independent" is going to twist things a little, they're probably only saying that we've been in Iraq for 8 months, so they divide the sample rate by .75 to annualize it and compare to the annual rate. I'm not saying this is wrong, it's just twisting statistics a little.

I can't find the overall suicide rate, but has the suicide rate for males and females seperately. For US men the average is 19.8/100,000 annually; for US women it is 4.4/100,000 annually.
Those figures "prove" that women are trying to kill.....MR_GRUMPY
Nov 12, 2003 7:00 AM
off the male population................We need a special study on that. After all, numbers don't lie.
Statistics; lie? Never. (nm)TJeanloz
Nov 12, 2003 7:06 AM
Don't shoot the messenger...bicyclerepairman
Nov 13, 2003 1:12 PM
You shouldn't cast aspersions on the Independent or Robert Fisk based on annualizing an 8 month sample - btw they divide the sample by .66 (not .75) to annualize an 8 month data set. So you've been caught 'twisting statistics' yourself...

More directly to the issue: would you be more comfortable if this information was better censored?
Don't shoot the messenger...TJeanloz
Nov 13, 2003 2:20 PM
You're of course right on the decimal, I must have been momentarily retarded.

Note that I said: "I'm not saying this is wrong, it's just twisting statistics a little."

And it is. If somebody in the population of troops (we'll assume 100,000 troops) committed suicide right this minute, it wouldn't be factually incorrect to say that the rate had skyrocketed to 525,600/100,000 per year. But it wouldn't really be right either.

I don't really understand, and it has yet to be explained to me, why anybody would be uncomfortable with this information. People commit suicide. Is that news to you? I don't find it all that interesting, and I'm not sure why Fisk or anybody else does. It would be interesting if it were a truely outrageous number - say a hundred a day - but it isn't.
re: maybe 23 US military suicides in Iraqmohair_chair
Nov 12, 2003 7:24 AM
I think the only valid comparison is to compare suicide rates while in active combat. In other words, comparing suicide rates of soldiers in Iraq to the suicide rate of soldiers serving in North Dakota is useless, because the conditions are totally different.

An interesting study would be to look at other conflicts, such as Vietnam, Korea, WWII. Even looking at US troops in Afghanistan today would be an interesting measure, although I suspect those are more elite forces that have selectively chosen their members. What about the British serving in Iraq?

The line that says "As usual, the US army only revealed this statistic following constant questioning" tells me that the author and publisher of this crap are A-holes. First of all, spelling Army without a capital A is a subtle insult that reveals their bias. Second, I'm not sure why this subject matters, and what good does it do the families of the dead troops to now know that their sons and daughters didn't die "honorably" in the service of their country? I'm sure the Army (with a capital A) isn't proud of suicides, but I'm sure it also realizes it serves no purpose to tell the families, since it's not the family's fault. The dead are still dead. Besides, any soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine that has served honorably deserves the full respect and honor of his comrades in arms and the country he serves, regardless of how and where he died.
I had read it somewhere......african
Nov 12, 2003 7:35 AM
I was in the South African Army and we had that problem too. I remember a guy put his rifle on Auto and put 5 rounds through his noggin. Try this web site I think that is where I read about the suicides.
We typically had 2-5 on any given 6 month carrier deployment.sn69
Nov 12, 2003 8:30 AM
If you figure that the avergage aircraft carrier has 5,500 people on board and if you compare the article's numbers compared to the number of total troops deployed (not just those in Iraq, but also those in Bahrain, Dubai, Quatar, Turkey, etc), you'll find the statistics not too far off.

Deployments are really hard to deal with, and people react differently. Most compartmentalize and simply shift into what we call "groundhog day" mode. Others get angry or depressed. In fact, on my 1997 cruise with the Constellation we had a Navy head-shrinker assigned to the ship's medical department. I think that's standard now.

In this particular case, however, I'd guess that the supposed rise in suicides is more due to the length of the deployment and problems that the individuals are suffering at home (financial issues, marriages falling apart, etc). Admittedly, I haven't read the whole artile (I'd appreciate a full link), but the last line you cut 'n pasted reeks of sloppy journalism. Like I already said, if you put any deployment under the microscope, you'll find a lot of suicides and attempts. Jumpers off the ship are fairly regular occurrances.

Agree w/Scott, for once--it's not surprising at all.Cory
Nov 12, 2003 9:45 AM
I was a Special Forces medic in Vietnam, and while suicide was rare in our units--mostly committed, carefully selected and well-trained soldiers--it wasn't all that unusual in infantry outfits. You've got a bunch of people in unpleasant conditions, doing nasty, generally boring jobs; they're mostly young and so lack perspective on the passage of time (a year seems like forever when you're 19) and they all have guns, or at least access to them.
For that matter, I spent ONE NIGHT on an aircraft carrier several years ago for a story, and there was a suicide while I was on the ship. They told me I was restricted to the wardroom "because of an emergency," but I peeked out the door and saw the guy going by on a gurney. I didn't find out until later he'd done himself in.
haven't seen much reported in the mediarufus
Nov 12, 2003 6:16 PM
but i did see on msnbc the other day as they run down the latest casualties, there was one where the cause was listed as "non-hostile gunshot". i've seen that on a few of them, but haven't seen any reporting much deeper than that.
They need booze and hookers.dr hoo
Nov 13, 2003 1:39 PM
Two commodities in short supply in Iraq. So do your patriotic duty and send a serviceman (or woman) some porn and whiskey today!

I heard the suicide story a while ago, actually. The numbers seem to be nothing out of the ordinary, given the situation. I think that is why coverage is minimal.
You jest, but that's what I've been doingsn69
Nov 13, 2003 3:00 PM
for a couple friends who've been over there since the start. Porn and libations. A little levity to make an otherwise unbearable situation slightly more tolerable. ...That and care packages with fresh coffee beans and microwave popcorn.