Army Suicides

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Army Suicides

Postby Rob Lister » Fri Nov 16, 2012 1:31 pm

Through Newser, I pick up this AP article on suicides in the army.

http://www.newser.com/article/da2io7r02 ... -2011.html
Ten months into 2012, the number of suspected suicides by active-duty soldiers has surpassed last year's total, even as the Pentagon struggles to stem the persistent problem.

...

According to the Army says there were 20 possible suicides in October, bringing the total for the year to 166 _ one more than the total for 2011. The 20 suspected soldier suicides in October is also a spike, compared to 15 in September.


It goes on to discuss the army's past and continuing response to this. What it doesn't do is provide the basic statistics and how it compares to similar demographics in the general population. I would think this would be journalism 101, which AP should be pretty good at.

Could be there's a real story here. Or not, depending on the outcome of that basic math.

Regarding suicide, I think there really are some higher risk factors in the military than for the general population, but the distinctions are more subtle than buzz words like PTSD would ever explain; in a nutshell, seeking help can be a career ender, and the perceived stigma (is there any other kind?) is an even more powerful dissuasion.

The above is just my opinion, but I think it is pretty accurate. Even so, in the past when such news reports hit the media, it turned out that the numbers for the military matched pretty well with that of the general population.

What's your opinion.

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Re: Army Suicides

Postby DrMatt » Fri Nov 16, 2012 1:39 pm

Could selection bias tend to bring suicidal people to the military where they're more likely to get killed than in most lines of work (other than mining)?
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Re: Army Suicides

Postby ed » Fri Nov 16, 2012 1:58 pm

Rob Lister wrote:Through Newser, I pick up this AP article on suicides in the army.

http://www.newser.com/article/da2io7r02 ... -2011.html
Ten months into 2012, the number of suspected suicides by active-duty soldiers has surpassed last year's total, even as the Pentagon struggles to stem the persistent problem.

...

According to the Army says there were 20 possible suicides in October, bringing the total for the year to 166 _ one more than the total for 2011. The 20 suspected soldier suicides in October is also a spike, compared to 15 in September.


It goes on to discuss the army's past and continuing response to this. What it doesn't do is provide the basic statistics and how it compares to similar demographics in the general population. I would think this would be journalism 101, which AP should be pretty good at.

Could be there's a real story here. Or not, depending on the outcome of that basic math.

Regarding suicide, I think there really are some higher risk factors in the military than for the general population, but the distinctions are more subtle than buzz words like PTSD would ever explain; in a nutshell, seeking help can be a career ender, and the perceived stigma (is there any other kind?) is an even more powerful dissuasion.

The above is just my opinion, but I think it is pretty accurate. Even so, in the past when such news reports hit the media, it turned out that the numbers for the military matched pretty well with that of the general population.

What's your opinion.


Good questions.

Figure 11 per 100,000 roughly, in the general pop.
http://dhhs.nv.gov/Suicide/DOCS/Statist ... S_2009.pdf

154 active duty suicides thru june. Maybe 300 for the year?
http://apnews.myway.com/article/20120608/D9V8LOVG1.html

1,456,862 active duty personnel (wiki)

Thats 31.4 per 145,682 active duty personnel or about 22 per 100,000

now, these are all active duty not just in theater but since they are not terribly precise it is hard to know. If the rate is much higher in-theater then the rate must be much lower out of theater to come up with my numbers, the implication being that a non-warrior warrior is a happy warrior. Something to ponder.
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Re: Army Suicides

Postby Rob Lister » Fri Nov 16, 2012 2:07 pm

DrMatt wrote:Could selection bias tend to bring suicidal people to the military where they're more likely to get killed than in most lines of work (other than mining)?


I don't think so. Unless the numbers have changed--and maybe they have--the per capita suicides in the military match well with the general population, even though the risk factors are greater.

If there's a selection bias, it works the other way. Post-enlistment psychological screening is one of the first stops a new recruit makes. A history of mental health issues doesn't guarantee you a 4F, but depending on the current 'needs' of the military, and the nature of those issues, it makes it far more likely.

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Re: Army Suicides

Postby Rob Lister » Fri Nov 16, 2012 2:18 pm

ed wrote:Figure 11 per 100,000 roughly, in the general pop.
http://dhhs.nv.gov/Suicide/DOCS/Statist ... S_2009.pdf


Demographics are important here, and isn't broken down by both sex and age group. That link puts 2009 data at 19.2 per 100k for men, trending up from previous years (which is surprising given advances in medicine, but reporting may be a factor too). Women make up less than 15% of the Army and, while they are more likely to attempt suicide, they are no where near as good at it. I'll also opine that the stigma I opined upon before doesn't apply to them to an equal extent either.

now, these are all active duty not just in theater but since they are not terribly precise it is hard to know. If the rate is much higher in-theater then the rate must be much lower out of theater to come up with my numbers, the implication being that a non-warrior warrior is a happy warrior. Something to ponder.


And ponder I shall. From experience, I can tell you that few things are as depressing as deployment.

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Re: Army Suicides

Postby Anaxagoras » Sat Nov 17, 2012 5:24 pm

Rob Lister wrote:
ed wrote:Figure 11 per 100,000 roughly, in the general pop.
http://dhhs.nv.gov/Suicide/DOCS/Statist ... S_2009.pdf


Demographics are important here, and isn't broken down by both sex and age group. That link puts 2009 data at 19.2 per 100k for men, trending up from previous years (which is surprising given advances in medicine, but reporting may be a factor too). Women make up less than 15% of the Army and, while they are more likely to attempt suicide, they are no where near as good at it. I'll also opine that the stigma I opined upon before doesn't apply to them to an equal extent either.

now, these are all active duty not just in theater but since they are not terribly precise it is hard to know. If the rate is much higher in-theater then the rate must be much lower out of theater to come up with my numbers, the implication being that a non-warrior warrior is a happy warrior. Something to ponder.


And ponder I shall. From experience, I can tell you that few things are as depressing as deployment.


The rate is also higher among younger people, and the military is younger than the general population. Those are prime suicide years.


I agree. Every time I hear a story about X in the military, I always wonder, well what's the rate of X in the general population controlled for demographics. It never gets mentioned. E.g., there were a lot of stories about rape and sexual assault in the military not too long ago, but none of them ever seemed to ask or answer that basic question.
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Re: Army Suicides

Postby Rob Lister » Wed Aug 07, 2013 11:47 am

Rob Lister wrote:Regarding suicide, I think there really are some higher risk factors in the military than for the general population, but the distinctions are more subtle than buzz words like PTSD would ever explain; in a nutshell, seeking help can be a career ender, and the perceived stigma (is there any other kind?) is an even more powerful dissuasion.

The above is just my opinion, but I think it is pretty accurate....


People in the military kill themselves for the same reasons civilians do and there is no clear link between combat or deployment overseas and the military's surging suicide rate, according to a new study. Researchers, who tracked 150,000 soldiers from 2001 to 2008, found that most of those who killed themselves were heavy drinkers who suffered from depression or had been diagnosed with manic depression, CNN reports. Surprisingly, being deployed for longer than a year was associated with a lower risk of suicide.

The study suggests that military suicides can be curbed with the same approaches used in civilian life, but the problem in the military is that doctors can end patients' careers by recommending early discharge, making soldiers less likely to seek help, Army Medical Corps Col. Charles Engel tells Bloomberg. "The answer has to be an effort to approximate civilian standards of confidentiality," he says. "Unless we’re dealing with an imminent risk to combat or a tactical mission, really we should be using civilians’ standards."
http://www.newser.com/story/172156/stud ... cides.html

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Re: Army Suicides

Postby clarsct » Fri Aug 09, 2013 2:01 am

I worked with a guy who was a therapist aboard an aircraft carrier, and he mentioned that they lose a 3-10 people per trip to suicide. Per trip.

Made me wonder.

Btw, is this military service, or army specific?
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Re: Army Suicides

Postby Anaxagoras » Fri Aug 09, 2013 4:29 am

clarsct wrote:I worked with a guy who was a therapist aboard an aircraft carrier, and he mentioned that they lose a 3-10 people per trip to suicide. Per trip.

Made me wonder.

Btw, is this military service, or army specific?


I served on an aircraft carrier for a couple years (well actually in a squadron that deployed with the aircraft carrier) but I don't remember any suicides myself. Maybe they happened and I just wasn't aware of it but that seems a little high to me. Could be true I suppose, but it surprises me.

Here's a NYT article on the latest study:
Deployment Factors Are Not Related to Rise in Military Suicides, Study Finds

And here's the actual study itself:
Risk Factors Associated With Suicide in Current and Former US Military Personnel

Results Through the end of 2008, findings were 83 suicides in 707 493 person-years of follow-up (11.73/100 000 person-years [95% CI, 9.21-14.26]).
. . .
Suicide rates across the population of active-duty US military personnel began to increase sharply in 2005 from a baseline rate of 10.3 to 11.3 per 100 000 persons to a rate of 16.3 per 100 000 persons in 2008, with the highest rates among Marine Corps and Army personnel (19.9 and 19.3 per 100 000 persons).4 Since 2009, suicide rates among those on active-duty status have stabilized at approximately 18 per 100 000.


A 6-month deployment of an aircraft carrier with 5,000 personnel on board would be 2500 person-years so if the rate were 20 per 100000 person-years there should be only about 0.5 suicides per six-month deployment. 3 would be a rate of 120 and 10 would be a rate of 400. But the study does not mention deployment on an aircraft carrier as a risk factor:
In Cox models adjusted for age and sex, factors significantly associated with increased risk of suicide included male sex, depression, manic-depressive disorder, heavy or binge drinking, and alcohol-related problems. None of the deployment-related factors (combat experience, cumulative days deployed, or number of deployments) were associated with increased suicide risk in any of the models.
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Re: Army Suicides

Postby Rob Lister » Fri Aug 09, 2013 10:55 am

I did more than 6 full cruises on various carriers. I recall two suicides. One guy jumped ship in arctic waters, one guy guzzled a fifth of vodka while on liberty in [forgot where].

Another guy decided to OD on tylenol, but he lived to do even stupider things.

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Re: Army Suicides

Postby Anaxagoras » Fri Aug 09, 2013 12:51 pm

Rob Lister wrote:One guy jumped ship in arctic waters, one guy guzzled a fifth of vodka while on liberty in [forgot where].

That one could just be an accidental death unless it's clear he intended to kill himself. The vodka one I mean.
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Re: Army Suicides

Postby Rob Lister » Fri Aug 09, 2013 12:54 pm

Anaxagoras wrote:
Rob Lister wrote:One guy jumped ship in arctic waters, one guy guzzled a fifth of vodka while on liberty in [forgot where].

That one could just be an accidental death unless it's clear he intended to kill himself. The vodka one I mean.


Well, that was the scuttlebutt, shipmate.

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Re: Army Suicides

Postby gnome » Sat Aug 10, 2013 4:34 pm

Rob Lister wrote:in a nutshell, seeking help can be a career ender, and the perceived stigma (is there any other kind?) is an even more powerful dissuasion.


Help me to understand this one. I would expect that help is available for mental health issues from things as minor as maintaining ADHD medication straight on through any treatments that don't require separation, and that there would be a fair degree of confidentiality as to the severity of assistance sought. I can easily allow that I'm mistaken about a part of this, since I have no personal experience of it, but I'm curious where my expectations fail.
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Re: Army Suicides

Postby Rob Lister » Sat Aug 10, 2013 6:50 pm

gnome wrote:
Rob Lister wrote:in a nutshell, seeking help can be a career ender, and the perceived stigma (is there any other kind?) is an even more powerful dissuasion.


Help me to understand this one. I would expect that help is available for mental health issues from things as minor as maintaining ADHD medication straight on through any treatments that don't require separation, and that there would be a fair degree of confidentiality as to the severity of assistance sought. I can easily allow that I'm mistaken about a part of this, since I have no personal experience of it, but I'm curious where my expectations fail.


Any mental health issue that requires medication will end your career. At least, that was the case when I served. I doubt it has changed. There is no expectation of confidentiality within the realm of military medicine. If you have it, whatever 'it' is, then your entire chain of command is made aware; they must know the exact state of military readiness. And if you're on Prozac, they're not about to put you on watch. And if you can't stand a watch, you can't serve; we are all soldiers first and foremost, clerks and dishwashers and technicians a distant second.

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Re: Army Suicides

Postby gnome » Sat Aug 10, 2013 9:02 pm

OK... it looks like I have to realize how narrow the range of issues there are that wouldn't be everyone's business from a combat readiness standpoint. It fits together better for me now.
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Re: Army Suicides

Postby clarsct » Mon Aug 12, 2013 9:48 pm

I dunno..my information was ancedotal. Guy claimed that it was more prevalent on carriers because of the amount of people they hold, and even though they are fucking huge, it's a lot of people in living areas that are relatively small.

Another ancedote: Cousin of mine got kicked out the Marines cause he had a still in his room aboard a carrier....was a Harrier mechanic....hear it's a good job. This was during Desert Storm, and they were stationed in the Gulf. Course, the guy is a bit of an idiot......(Shallow end of the family's gene pool....)
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Re: Army Suicides

Postby Rob Lister » Mon Aug 12, 2013 10:43 pm

clarsct wrote:I dunno..my information was ancedotal. Guy claimed that it was more prevalent on carriers because of the amount of people they hold, and even though they are fucking huge, it's a lot of people in living areas that are relatively small.

Another ancedote: Cousin of mine got kicked out the Marines cause he had a still in his room aboard a carrier....was a Harrier mechanic....hear it's a good job. This was during Desert Storm, and they were stationed in the Gulf. Course, the guy is a bit of an idiot......(Shallow end of the family's gene pool....)


If a harrier mech, not a carrier but an Amphibious Assault Ship (LHD). They look similar though. If true, I can imagine how he got caught. I can't imagine how he wouldn't get caught. everyone on the ship would have smelled it.

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Re: Army Suicides

Postby DrMatt » Tue Aug 13, 2013 12:00 am

Shouldn't a good still be sealed as well as a good boat?
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Re: Army Suicides

Postby Doctor X » Tue Aug 13, 2013 12:29 am

The Marines have a number of solutions.

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Re: Army Suicides

Postby Rob Lister » Tue Aug 13, 2013 2:25 am

Doctor X wrote:The Marines have a number of solutions.

--J.D.


Rather onionesk.


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