Military suicide rate

Discussion in 'Warfare / Military' started by Mushroom, Jan 14, 2018.

  1. HereWeGoAgain

    HereWeGoAgain Well-Known Member

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    The answer is that the military takes healthy people and destroys them.

    It isn't complicated.

    I had a cousin who committed suicide a year after his fifth tour in Iraq. On the last tour he was involved in an attack on the wrong location. They killed a bunch of kids. He had to help collect the body parts. 18 months later he shot himself in the head.

    Like I said, not complicated.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2018
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  2. Nightmare515

    Nightmare515 Ragin' Cajun Staff Member Past Donor

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    I agree somewhat, I do believe there is a different type of troop serving today than there was in days past. This has much to do with the overall upbringing of the millennial generation which is just "different" than before. Now granted I am a realist. The military isn't for everybody and I'll be the first person to tell you that I am a terrible recruiter (which is why I could never be an actual recruiter). Video games and media have painted a pretty skewed picture of what military service is actually like. Kids are playing Call of Duty for years and think that's how war is and it's "fun" and all that nonsense.

    I simply tell people the truth, I don't purposefully try to discourage service I simply make it very clear about what exactly you are getting yourself in to if I am asked the question. Kids talk to me a lot, I'm the "cool old guy" according to them who is approachable unlike most of my counterparts in my position who are Type A personality arrogant guys who think they are better than people. I've had the luxury of experiencing service as both a front line combat arms ground pounder and an aviator so I can speak intelligently about both. After talking to most kids and hearing them out I more often than not conclude with "join the Air Force". Most of these kids have a romanticized version of what they THINK I do and have done, not what I have actually done, and it's nowhere near close. I'm not trying to discourage people from joining the Army, lord knows we NEED people right now, I'm mainly just trying to save some of these kids from a life of misery if they join up to "follow in my footsteps" with the completely unrealistic vision of what they THINK I do. Which is unfortunately one of the leading reasons why so many pilots are walking out of the door after their first contract expires. As a young Captain friend of mine said when I asked as he was finalizing his paperwork to leave: "This is just NOT what I thought it was, I mean at ALL".

    lol yup, told ya. He's going to go fly for the airlines. And behind him is literally, and I mean literally, about 80% of the rest of the hangar in the upcoming months and years when contracts start expiring.

    Part of me feels bad when talking to younger enlisted Soldiers who want to do what I do. Mainly because I remember full well what it was like to be in their shoes with the dream of one day having my current job. For them I don't tend to tell them much of anything, if they have the time I usually let them shadow me for a day or so and show them exactly what I actually do on a daily basis, upcoming projects, meetings, operations, etc. At the end of the day the response is usually something along the lines of "Wtf Sir? I thought you were a pilot". lol yeah I am a pilot, this isn't Top Gun, most of your life as a pilot is doing non pilot things. They had the belief that we walk into the door with our coffee cups then grab our gear and hop in an aircraft and fly around all day then land and toss our helmet to the crew chief and go home. As a young E-4 told me the other day "I rarely see you anymore Sir, I thought you were out flying all the time". Nope, you never see me because I'm locked in my office upstairs in front of a computer doing paperwork and going to meetings for 10 hours a day. I haven't seen the sun set in 2 months lol.

    With the current age of the internet and these wiz kids and their computer skills the information is out there. I think people just need to do some real research, talk to people, and get an honest view of what exactly military life entails. Gather the information and take a good hard look in the mirror and honestly ask yourself if this is what you want to do. I believe the problem with so many new recruits is that they just don't know what the military actually is, they know what they THINK it is and it's usually nowhere near accurate. Which leads to a culture shock when they arrive and depression and all sorts of other things. Couple that with a more "sensitive" generation of kids and it spells disaster some times. Like I said before I'm pretty much everyone's big brother, everybody from younger Enlisted to LT's to even Company Commanders stop by my office just to talk to me and vent. Just the other day one of my LT's stopped by with doom and gloom on his face, West Point graduate. I let him talk for a bit then simply asked him "This isn't what you thought it was is it?" His response, "**** no man, if I would have known this before I would go back in time and punch my Freshman self in the mouth" lol.

    Bottom line, kids better know what they are getting themselves in to BEFORE they get in to it. You never want to figure out you ****ed up AFTER you are locked in a contract lol. That will help with a lot of these issues people are having right now. Based on the way this millennial generation is as a whole the Air Force is a better fit for a huge chunk of them. Which is unfortunate because the Army NEEDS bodies right now, but most of these kids just flat out aren't cut out for this. The Air Force by and large is a change from civilian life but much less dramatic for the majority of jobs. Many years ago by best friend growing up wanted to join the military. I'd known the guy for over a decade at that point and knowing him I knew exactly what he should and shouldn't do. He wanted to join the Army and asked me to go with him so that the recruiter wouldn't BS him and all of that. We went and talked to the Army recruiter and he was ready and willing to sign up right then and there. I told him to come with me next door and just talk to the Air Force recruiter as well to see what he says. Air Force recruiter was a realist he flat out said "Look here's the bottom line, we are more "corporate" based, The Army and Marines are the "military", the majority of us are more or less the military more in line with how the civilian world would operate in a corporation type aspect. We are closer to civilians in a business than we are to the Army or Marines".

    3 days later he was signing his paperwork and shipped off to Air Force Basic Training a few weeks later. He THOUGHT he wanted to be a Soldier until he understood what being a Soldier actually was. I shipped off back to Afghanistan shortly after that and went to visit him at his home station when I returned. He walked up in his crisp Air Force blues with a huge smile on his face and excitedly told me all about what he does and everything and showed me around his base. I told him he looked sharp, he told me I looked like **** (I lost a lot of weight on that deployment). We had a few beers and he simply told me "Thank you man, thank you for taking me next door that day. This is awesome I love it here, you look like you got hit by a truck screw that noise" LOL

    Yup, the Army isn't for everybody lol.
     
  3. Tim15856

    Tim15856 Well-Known Member

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    Expect the suicide rate to increase as trans are allowed back in.
     
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  4. Tim15856

    Tim15856 Well-Known Member

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    I think pretty much every time I brought up my service in the AF the person would just automatically think I was a pilot. I would have to explain how few really are.
     
  5. Nightmare515

    Nightmare515 Ragin' Cajun Staff Member Past Donor

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    He was saying that to me in jest. I am a pilot, but most people have a very romanticized vision of what pilots do on a daily basis in the military. He, along with most other Soldiers, believed that I just showed up to work and grabbed my gear and flew around all day then went home. Few people realize that the majority of a pilots job involves a desk and paperwork and meetings with some flying sprinkled in there, not vice versa. He said "I thought you were a pilot" after shadowing me around for a few days and realized that my day to day job involves everything but actually flying most of the time.
     
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  6. ArmySoldier

    ArmySoldier Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    I call BS. You guys just fly around all day. We'll see if I branch aviation though
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2018
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  7. Nightmare515

    Nightmare515 Ragin' Cajun Staff Member Past Donor

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    lol if that were the case then I don't think we'd have a retention crisis going on with pilots right now and pilots from all branches of service would be happier and more willing to stay around longer.
     
  8. ArmySoldier

    ArmySoldier Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Many in my former MOS (11b) were down on themselves due to exhaustion. A week of patrols, climbing, gear, and then to return, do it all again...wears you out. I've had guys get depressed just because of that. Deployments have stages where it can make or break you. The first few months are crucial. You can think about your family and friends non stop or you can focus on the mission and channel your love and friendships for your down time. I've found the ones who get really down and out are the ones who can't stop thinking about home. It's tough to manage when you're hanging around dozens of 18 year olds who just want to smoke cigs and drink beer.
     
  9. JakeJ

    JakeJ Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Someone we know very well in the AF talked about the topic of suicide after there was one, then another at the base. They had become so often a rule was imposed that no one on the base is to ever be alone, even going to bathrooms.

    It is not just people suffering from the trauma of battle. Neither of those two suicides had seen any combat. The stresses put on personnel in terms of study, knowledge, testing and even hours can be intensely demanding. The study and learning requirements can be massive - and many who enlist opted to join the military rather than pursuing college - only to find their study, classroom and knowledge acquisition demands are 10, 20 times more than if they were in a college. Nor will they be learning PCism and other chatty topics often in university classes - but instead extremely technical matters requiring a great deal of memory and more complex than calculus - though the person is not particularly suited for intense education or even the capability.

    Added to this is that it can be highly competitive, again due to budget and personnel shortages. It literally might be announced that "only half of you in this group will proceed, only the top 50% of this group." It can be as extreme as the other 50% will literally be booted out of the service. The pressure can be enormous. What does a person do when they just can't learn the material, just can't stand spending another 4 hours of study after pulling a 12 hour shift possibly in terrible conditions. So the test is tomorrow and the person isn't ready at all. What is that person to do? At a university you can just not show up or drop the class. Not in the military.

    People can be pushed beyond their capabilities, including in learning ability, memory and energy levels. This can combine with problems back at home that they are helpless to address intermixing into this. A breakup call. A relative sick. Wishing to instead be doing what your friends are doing. Yet you can't just tell the military "I QUIT!" without terrible repercussions. A less-than-honorable or dishonorable discharge. All efforts lost.

    The person is trapped and it can be imminent. The person knows s/he can't pass the test tomorrow. Can't stand doing another 12 hours. Can't take another day in 120 degrees or freezing all day long. As they fall behind others - and COs getting on their case - they also start feeling like they are losers, inferior, that there is no end in sight and it is only going to get worse and worse, unbearably worse. There is only one quick fix - suicide. Then its over.

    I don't know how the military can address this. The technical and knowledge demands are massive, more than most people suspect when signing up. There is a severe personal shortage in many areas and people are being pushed to the absolute max. In some situations, the person knows that other lives depend on what they do, pushing them to work even longer "off the clock." 12, 16 hour days particularly if in a theater of combat or for missions operations. But there is no safety valve. The military has so much invested in a person and is so dependent upon each person due to staffing shortage, they can not just let everyone who wants out get out. Probably most at one point or another would opt out - though only a temporary desire.

    It would seem to me the main goal for psychological health would be to promote socialization and activities that are not work related as much as possible. To give mental diversion. People don't commit suicide when they are having fun with other people. Most in the service, particularly if overseas, get off the base and travel about as much as possible to get away. If a person starts closing in on him/herself in isolation the danger would seem to be high. Social R&R time is vital.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2018
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  10. Nightmare515

    Nightmare515 Ragin' Cajun Staff Member Past Donor

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    During my ground deployments what I noticed was that the war itself didn't really break people too often it was like you said, issues on the home front.

    I've only ever seen 3 people "lose it" because of actual warfare. During an attack on our outpost one night I saw 2 people break down in tears and were basically frozen in fear. One of them was high ranking brass that I with my fire team had to personally extract from under his desk in the fetal position and evacuate him from the outpost because we thought we were about to be overrun and he was part of the leadership cell that we were tasked with protecting at all costs in the event of such circumstances. The other was a female cook who we had to drag to a bunker. Then during a convoy patrol my truck got hit with an IED and when the dust settled I looked over and saw one of our NCOs frozen in fear. He came to though he just needed a swift kick and some strong words.

    The relationship issues back home is what broke most people. Spouses cheating, draining funds, moving away, etc. It was made worse by the fact that often times we literally couldn't let people return home to deal with these issues because we were in the middle of the troop surge and didn't have the bodies to spare. So many were stuck just having to watch as their spouses drained their bank accounts and took their kids and moved. That was hard.

    After returning from the deployments is when we saw the toll taken on some people. For some reason I guess being over there the entire time was fine, adrenaline, right state of mind, etc. But when they got home it all hit them and they broke. That's what led to the suicide of 2 of my friends and the other being admitted to the insane asylum. None of them showed any outward signs of issues while we were over there, but the second we got back it all hit them I guess. Everyone is just different I suppose.

    Like I always say, folks can thump their chests all they want to, but nobody, and I mean NOBODY actually knows how war will personally effect them. I've seen hardened tough guy 11B NCO's literally freeze and panic the second bullets started flying in their direction and I've seen terrible Privates who I thought wouldn't last 2 seconds stay calm and cool and action on the enemy during firefights. And everything inbetween. I've seen seasoned multiple deployment veterans come home and lose their minds, literally. And I've seen light hearted "the life of the platoon" kids joke around with huge smiles on their faces all throughout deployments all while getting shot at and mortared walk off of the plane, then go on leave after returning from deployment and take out their personal glock at their parents house and kill themselves.

    This stuff is real, and there is just almost no way of telling just how it will effect people and who it will effect unfortunately.
     
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  11. JakeJ

    JakeJ Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    The "trauma of war" would not seem to be the #1 cause - and there a large difference between active duty suicides and veteran suicides. I wrote above of people in the service. Veterans are in a very different situation due to the dramatic shift in their life.

    A person's life in the military is very directed and controlled. There is order and structure. Predictability. Certainty. Others more making your decisions than you are. Interacting with other people is required. Socialization assured. Income is known. Life is relatively predictable. The person has clear purposes and tasks in life. While in the military, you are not deciding what you will do today, the military will.

    But upon leaving the military all that vanishes. Life is no longer directed and controlled. A person now has full command of their own life. All decisions are theirs. Nothing is assured. Nothing is certain. Purpose and duty is no longer defined for the person by others. The military structured life is gone. Analogously, it could as though a person were on a cruise ship and then suddenly put into a small boat, alone, drifting on the ocean. The person now has to be fully self sufficient and self contained - and socially isolated by comparison to while in the military.

    For some people, joining the military is an escape from being solely responsible for your own life. After service, the person returned - now fully an adult - required to take care of all aspects of their lives and making all decisions. I could see how some couldn't handle civilian life after military service. Military service can be very hard - but at least you know what your life is about. So civilian life in terms of having to be self sufficient can be much harder as they now finally have to grow up to be a fully self contained adult, their youth gone.
     
  12. ArmySoldier

    ArmySoldier Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    My last patrol of the deployment I froze up. Not gonna lie. We faced contact straight ahead from a longggg distance. Most likely just antagonizing. Once we realized how far away they were, we advanced. Then a few popped up from the right side of our patrol like they came out of a F-ing rabbit hole. 25 meters from us. I was so surprised I froze up. Someone punched me in the back, grabbed my arm, and we took cover.

    I was good after that
     
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  13. JakeJ

    JakeJ Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    No its not a reflection on the "quality" of people enlisting. Military standards for enlisting are the highest they've ever been.
     
  14. Nightmare515

    Nightmare515 Ragin' Cajun Staff Member Past Donor

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    No shame in that. My very first deployment we got shelled for the first time and that was probably the most terrified I have ever been in my entire life. I did what any human would have done via normal human evolutionary protocol.....ran. I ran all the way to the edge of the outpost having no idea what I was even doing I just knew I was scared so I ran until I hit the wall. Then saw a bunker and ran in there and ran into one of our clerks who was crying and she said "What are you doing in here? Aren't you supposed to be out there doing something about this?!?

    My platoon was the only combat arms platoon on the outpost, tasked with defending everybody else on the outpost in situations such as these. So she was right, however me having been a civilian kid playing video games and getting drunk every night a mere 4 months prior to that day was not exactly accustomed to being shelled yet lol. One of my guys from my squad found me and started yelling saying "there you are dude! Get the **** out here we have to go right now, here's your **** you left in the damn tent, put it on lets go, now!" So I took a deep breath and followed him and we left the wire to go find the source of our attackers....much to my dismay.

    After that day I was fine, the indirect just became a part of life and didn't bother me anymore. In fact it didn't bother me so much that I almost died from a shell because my buddy and I were eating in the chow tent and took fire and we didn't feel like moving because we had steak pucks (we never had actual food it was always MRE's). So we sat there eating our food until we looked out of the tent flap and saw our MWR trailer get blown up right next to our tent and decided we should probably get up LOL. Which by that time they had dialed in on that position and were shelling the ever loving crap out of, well...our position. So we ran. EOD post blast guys told us the next day that "the only reason you two morons are alive is because this shell hit the ground and bounced and didn't explode.....thank your lucky stars idiots" LOL.
     
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  15. ArmySoldier

    ArmySoldier Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Yep we too got used to indirect. I have pictures of me and some other guys playing poker in a makeshift bunker. You can't see the blasts, but the pictures were taken while we were under indirect.
     
  16. JakeJ

    JakeJ Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    That is why historically combat hardened (experienced) troops tend to be vastly superior in combat. It isn't that they are more skilled, but rather the startle-factor, the fear, uncertainty, is reduced.

    When suddenly surprised with unfamiliar danger, a person will instantly revert to core emotions of fear or anger, and can literally mentally lock up like a computer freezing - the brain having to instantly process more unfamiliar knowledge than it can. I call it the protracted startle. It can apply even to situations where no danger is involve as it is caused by a person mentally having to process too much new or unknown info at the same time.

    A Marine we know extremely well was a squad leader in the Helmand District of Afghanistan during the height of the fighting. He joins specifically with the goal of going into combat there. He had been a hunter since a child. Not that big of a guy. A champion wrestler in his weight class and he was someone who enjoyed a good fight otherwise, though not a bully and rather sought out bullies who would under estimate him for his size. The bullies would start it, he'd end it. He enjoyed this and sought it out. All of it like hunting to him.

    His goal of joining? Specifically to go into combat in Afghanistan. The ultimate but legal form of hunting. Hunting humans - armed - who are also hunting you. As a result, appearance of the "enemy" and even being fired upon in surprise was exactly his goal because that was the contest and now the game was on. Thus, he was never startled, at least not in a negative sense, but a positive sense. Although in fire fights now and then, his squad suffered no woundings or casualties. He saw missions as hunting expeditions, like a game and sport. It is just his core personality. That is probably a rare perspective.
     
  17. ArmySoldier

    ArmySoldier Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Many have that attitude prior to engaging in combat, but few keep it once they experience it. Confident soldiers can sometimes be a liability- they tend to wait a long time to find good cover or they move on their own.
     
  18. ArmySoldier

    ArmySoldier Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    I have a friend that's really battling with depression. He lives in California now so I don't see him anymore, but I know the pain is there. When we were deployed, he had this "don't care if I die" mentality that developed rather early. I worried about his stability for patrols. Luckily, the bone spurs in his legs got so bad he couldn't patrol so he was assigned to supply.

    To this day I have no idea what caused his depression. He was a single guy, no kids, nice apartment, a civilian career and from a upper-middle class family. He was (in training before we deployed) hilarious too. In premob, he was the class clown so to speak.

    Appears anything can trigger those feelings
     
  19. yiostheoy

    yiostheoy Well-Known Member

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    The military is comprised mostly 99.9999999% of kids under 25 who are hard pressed to deal with the lethal challenges of military life --

    - dear john's

    - cheating spouses

    - deployment away from home

    - deployment to rat hole deserts

    - culture shock with rat hole camel jockies

    - combat stress

    - ptsd.

    So there will always be a lot of military suicides. Always has been. Always will be.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2018
  20. yiostheoy

    yiostheoy Well-Known Member

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    Why die? Go supply!
    In the rear with the gear!
     
  21. yiostheoy

    yiostheoy Well-Known Member

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    ... The ultimate game of "chicken" !!!
     
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  22. yiostheoy

    yiostheoy Well-Known Member

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    Shelling = shell shock.

    This was a big deal in WW1.

    In WW2 they started calling it battle fatigue.

    In Viet Nam they called it the 1000 yard stare.

    Now they call it PTSD.

    Always been there. Always will be.
     
  23. yiostheoy

    yiostheoy Well-Known Member

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    In traumatic situations (such as bank robberies etc) people react naturally in one of several different ways:

    1 - fight

    2 - flight

    3 - freeze

    4 - Stockholm syndrome.

    Since combat or battle in any fashion is a chess game you have to know when and how to fight and when and how to flight.

    Freezing is no good.

    And helping the enemy (Stockholm syndrome) is no good either.
     
  24. ArmySoldier

    ArmySoldier Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    It's not 'either or'. You can experience any number of those given the type of situation.
     
  25. yiostheoy

    yiostheoy Well-Known Member

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    Most people do not realize what a sh!t hole the Earth is in many places.

    They are used to being back home with popcorn and beer.

    Once they taste the sh!t some of them get hardened while others melt.

    Always have. Always will.

    Moses (Moshe in Hebrew) even talks about this in the Bible (Hebrew Tenakh). He tells Joshua and Caleb to "choose soldiers from the hearty of the brethren over 20 years old" and not puzzies or wimps.

    Good advice, even today, 3500 years later !!
     

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