Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Friday | August 01, 2003

Suicides an in issue in Iraq

By Steve Gilliard

There have been seven suicides in Iraq since the end of 'major combat".

The U.S. military is investigating at least seven cases of suspected suicide by soldiers deployed for the war in Iraq that began in March a week before hostilities commenced and have continued in the months since major combat operations ended, defense officials said.

As yet there is no evidence indicating that the cases represent a spike in the rate of military suicides or any kind of pattern that can be linked to the battlefield environment or poor morale in Iraq, defense officials said. There were 118 suicides in the 1.2 million-member, active-duty military in 2001, which represents a rate that is at least one-third lower than that of the comparable civilian population.

Any increase in suicides is worrisome for the Army, because it indicates a loss of morale.

US forces in Iraq have suffered cases of probable suicide, a senior military official said today, amid slumping morale among troops faced with daily and deadly attacks.

The senior officer, who asked not to be named, said that among 53 US military non-combat deaths since May 1, when the war was declared effectively over, were "probable" suicides as well as a large number of road accidents.

Let's face facts. Iraq is a physically, mentally and socially hostile place. Supplies are frequently short, the soldiers feel trapped and the enemy is getting better, not worse.

All it takes for a 19 year old to get jumpy is a letter from his gf that she has a new boyfriend. Colleges have a problem dealing with this, so does the Army. Iraq could be a very easy place to lose hope.

This is the kind of story which rarely makes the papers with any impact. But it indicates that some soldiers are coming under intense emotional pressure.

I think it indicates our Army in Iraq is not a happy one. And that has implications beyond their mere emotional state. If they don't believe in the mission, they may get killed.

Posted August 01, 2003 05:35 AM


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