Monday, November 23, 2009

Army suicides set another yearly record

Since January, 140 active-duty soldiers have killed themselves while another 71 Army Reserve and National Guard soldiers killed themselves in the same time period, totaling 211 as of Tuesday, Gen. Peter Chiarelli, U.S. Army vice chief of staff, told reporters at a briefing Tuesday. But he said the monthly numbers are starting to slow down as the year nears its end.

"This is horrible, and I do not want to downplay the significance of these numbers in any way," Chiarelli said.

For all of 2008, the Army said 140 active-duty soldiers killed themselves while 57 Guard and Reserve soldiers committed suicide, totaling 197, according to Army statistics.

"The general trend line with the exception of a couple of months has been down."

[addendum, 11/25/2009: The sentence above rankles. Pisses off. Depresses. When last the military issued statements about the alarming number of soldier suicides, it was wayyyyyy long ago -- as far back as FEBRUARY 2009. So, between February, traditionally our second month of the year, until now, NOVEMBER 2009, which I consider our eleventh month, that makes... a whopping NINE MONTHS. I have trouble with any establishment of a statistical "trend" based on nine months of data, and even more trouble when "a couple of months" belie the claim. I'm just sayin'.]

In February, when I was reacting to another anouncement of record-setting soldier suicides, one of my posts engendered the following comment:

Anonymous said...
this article relates that 31000 people committed suicide in America....a rate of 85 per day. So the soldiers rate of 5 per day seems to be a little lower then whats the problem?

February 8, 2009 11:01 PM

I answered this way then, and suspect that an investigation into the mathematics of the current figures will reveal similar prejudices:

Bianca Castafiore said...
Hi Steve,

Well, first, any loss is one loss
too many -- on that, we can all agree.

Second, you are quoting data from 1996/7!

Lastly, "so what's the problem?"

The numbers, if it is gonna remain a numbers game, need to be relative in terms of demographics.

February 9, 2009 9:06 AM

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