FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Suicide Rush

More soldiers than ever are committing suicide, and the Army apparently has no ready explanation. The top brass are perplexed. One Army official said, ?This is terrifying . . .We do not know what is going on.?

I can tell you what?s going on. American troops are sick and tired of fighting two bogus wars that seem to have no end in sight. Twenty-four soldiers killed themselves in January 2009, eight more than died that month from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Col. Kathy Platoni, chief clinical psychologist for the Army Reserve and the National Guard, tried to explain why so many soldiers are giving up on life: “There is more hopelessness and helplessness because everything is so dreary and cold” in the long winter months.

Well, yeah. Of course the winter months are gloomy, but if you had been in Iraq or Afghanistan for two or three deployments, you might be done in about now, too ? cold or no cold. Platoni does admit that multiple deployments, family separations, and financial woes contribute to the stress that might push a service member over the edge.

The Army says at least 128 soldiers took their lives in 2008, the highest number since they started keeping suicide statistics twenty-nine years ago. For January 2009, the Army suicide rate was six times what it was in the same month last year ? troubling, indeed. American soldiers are exhausted, and still they are asked to do more. They are tired of constantly being on edge and tired of patrolling the streets for nebulous insurgents. They are tired of being tired.

Back in late September 2007, Eli Wright , a medic who served in Iraq, said, “Almost all the soldiers I talk to are tired, upset, fed up.” That was about eighteen months ago, and nothing has changed. The wars rage on, and the troops continue to suffer from PTSD and other mental health issues that can lead to suicide.

The tragic story of Pfc. Timothy Ryan Alderman is detailed in a Salon.com series. Infantryman Alderman, having seen ferocious fighting in Iraq, came home to experience jumpiness, panic attacks, and nightmares, among other symptoms. Although he asked the Army for help, doctors determined that Alderman?s mental health issues were not due to his military service. Even an Army sergeant expressed disdain for Alderman?s request for help, according to a friend of the late soldier. The sergeant snapped, “I wish you would just go ahead and kill yourself. It would save us a lot of paperwork.”

Tragically, that?s just what Alderman might have done. The Army says Alderman killed himself with an overdose of prescription drugs and other medications, but some feel that he may have accidentally overdosed. His list of medications was staggering.

Salon.com: ?Doctors had Alderman on 0.5 mg of Klonopin for anxiety three times a day; 800 mg of Neurotin, an anti-seizure medication, three times a day; 100 mg of Ultram, a narcotic-like pain reliever, three times a day; 20 mg of Geodon for bipolar disorder at noon and then another 80 mg at night; 0.1 mg of Clonodine, a blood pressure medication also used for withdrawal symptoms, three times a day; 60 mg of Remeron, for depression, once a day; and 10 mg of Prozac twice a day.?

Often Alderman seemed to be out of it, slurring his words and appearing ?stoned.? As he wrote shortly before he died, “I am seeking help but I feel like I’m not being treated right. I mean mental help. I struggle every day with it.”

War and the Moral Code War is an event that should never be undertaken lightly, as it goes against the grain of a culture?s code of morality. If one is introduced to the classic example of a strong moral code, the Ten Commandments, he is taught that the act of killing is the antithesis of what it means to be a spiritual being. Treating your fellow humans with respect, ? l? the Golden Rule, is the moral code that has been taught and practiced in civil society for centuries ? except in the theatre of war.

War challenges all the old moral and cultural rules. Taught to view ?enemies? as sub-human animals, soldiers are encouraged to shoot first and ask questions later. The Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments fly out the window in wartime, and when the soldier gets home, the cognitive dissonance really begins.

Cognitive dissonance is a kind of inner tug of war between 1) what you believe to be true and 2) your thoughts or actions that conflict with the belief. For instance, you may believe that killing is wrong, yet you might have taken the lives of innocent civilians while on tour in Iraq.

The cognitive dissonance that arises due to that experience could be quite difficult to overcome without understanding where it originated. The horrors of war can literally shock the mind.

The term, ?Shell Shock,? was introduced during World War I to explain the psychological trauma men suffered during military service: ?Symptoms varied widely in intensity, ranging from moderate panic attacks – which sometimes caused men to flee the battlefield: a crime which was invariably regarded as rank cowardice and which resulted in a court martial for desertion – to effective mental and physical paralysis.?

Men were not designed to fight war. Their minds are simply not equipped to deal with the act of killing other human beings, even if their own government sanctions that killing. No matter how many war video games you play, no matter how much simulation training you get, you can not fully prepare for the dreadful reality of armed conflict ? to the death ? against others of your own kind.

So we end up with Timothy Ryan Alderman, popping pills because he needed assistance. He was a human being in pain, asking for help from other human beings, and all he got was a pile of pills and a burial service.

Generation after generation, the battlefield steals the best and brightest from us. Time and again, the service member?s deepest wounds are hidden from view, and often we can only see them when it?s too late.

KATHY SANBORN is an author, journalist, and recording artist with a new CD, Peaceful Sounds, now a top seller on CDBaby. Listen to clips of her songs, including “Forever War,” and buy the album now at http://cdbaby.com/cd/kathysanborn.

© 2009 KATHY SANBORN

More articles by:

KATHY SANBORN is an author, journalist, and recording artist with a new CD, Peaceful Sounds, now a top seller on CDBaby. Listen to clips of her songs, including “Forever War,” and buy the album now at http://cdbaby.com/cd/kathysanborn.

Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
LEJ Rachell
The Baddest Black Power Artist You Never Heard Of
Lawrence Ware
All Hell Broke Out in Oklahoma
Franklin Lamb
Tehran’s Syria: Lebanon Colonization Project is Collapsing
Donny Swanson
Janus v. AFSCME: What’s It All About?
Will Podmore
Brexit and the Windrush Britons
Brian Saady
Boehner’s Marijuana Lobbying is Symptomatic of Special-Interest Problem
Julian Vigo
Google’s Delisting and Censorship of Information
Patrick Walker
Political Dynamite: Poor People’s Campaign and the Movement for a People’s Party
Fred Gardner
Medical Board to MDs: Emphasize Dangers of Marijuana
Rob Seimetz
We Must Stand In Solidarity With Eric Reid
Missy Comley Beattie
Remembering Barbara Bush
Wim Laven
Teaching Peace in a Time of Hate
Thomas Knapp
Freedom is Winning in the Encryption Arms Race
Mir Alikhan
There Won’t be Peace in Afghanistan Until There’s Peace in Kashmir
Robert Koehler
Playing War in Syria
Tamara Pearson
US Shootings: Gun Industry Killing More People Overseas
John Feffer
Trump’s Trade War is About Trump Not China
Morris Pearl
Why the Census Shouldn’t Ask About Citizenship
Ralph Nader
Bill Curry on the Move against Public Corruption
Josh Hoxie
Five Tax Myths Debunked
Leslie Mullin
Democratic Space in Adverse Times: Milestone at Haiti’s University of the Aristide Foundation
Louis Proyect
Syria and Neo-McCarthyism
Dean Baker
Finance 202 Meets Economics 101
Abel Cohen
Forget Gun Control, Try Bullet Control
Robert Fantina
“Damascus Time:” An Iranian Movie
David Yearsley
Bach and Taxes
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail