The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Opinion-Soldiers’ well-being in jeopardy

CNN earlier this month reported some disturbing statistics concerning the Army.

In the report, the Army said 24 soldiers are believed to have committed suicide in January — six times as many as in January 2008.

That is not the worst of it.

If all 24 deaths are confirmed as suicides, and the Army believes that is true, that would mean more soldiers killed themselves than died in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan last month.

The Pentagon reported 16 combat deaths last month.

This comes after the Army recently said it had record suicide rates in 2008.

An Army official told CNN, “This is terrifying. We do not know what is going on.”

In World War I, it was called shell shock.

In World War II, it was called battle fatigue.

Now it is called post-traumatic stress disorder, and doctors have known about it for a long time.

Mental-health professionals cite multiple deployments, excessive use of antidepressants and stigma associated with seeking treatment as possible causes in the jump of suicides.

Some antidepressants have side effects, especially in people age 18-24, which can cause suicidal thoughts, and doctors have no choice but to experiment with different drugs and dosages to find what is effective.

Unfortunately for the soldiers, they are often redeployed and separated from their families before that can happen, disrupting treatment.

The families also suffer through pain and anguish.

Also unfortunate are the soldiers shamed by their commanding officers and their peers into not seeking treatment.

This stigma occurs in civilian life as well.

How many times have the phrases “She’s psycho,” “He’s gone postal” or “She’s crazy” been used?

In 2008, 128 soldiers were confirmed as suicides with another 15 suspected of killing themselves, said the Army in the CNN report.

Even the Marine Corps is not immune to the problem as 41 Marines killed themselves last year.

The military is initiating proactive training to help identify soldiers with PTSD and are at risk of committing suicide.

Hopefully, the mental health of servicemen and women will become a priority to Pentagon commanders in peace and war.

Sadly, these soldiers killed themselves before the Army decided to take action.

Our soldiers and their families need and deserve our support, no matter how one may feel about the war.

They need to know their sacrifices are appreciated.

Thank a veteran for his or her service to our country by sending care packages or signing up to be a pen pal.

We all can make a difference in the mental well-being of our servicemen and women.

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