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A THEORY on the dramatic increase of suicide rates in the Military.

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posted on Aug, 20 2012 @ 07:23 PM
In just one post you took up over half of my scroll bar on the first page.

That has to be worth at least a star.

posted on Aug, 20 2012 @ 09:15 PM
First of all, thanks to everyone who complimented this thread. I really appreciate it.

Because there have been so many quality posts in reply, I've struggled with really how best to answer them all.

So I'll address some of the issues individually and some collectively.


I realize each of you had different takes on the subject, but I think intrptr, Amanda5, shepseskaf, and queenannie38, all posted with a reply largely supporting the above statement.

Benevolent Heretic, on the basis of your post in this thread, I didn't want to assume your position on the subject of causation, because I don't specifically recall if you had addressed that item in the other thread. Besides, you ask many good questions I wish to address separately.

But returning to the above statement in yellow, here is my position:

It may be 100% correct...

BUT the problem is that statement doesn't provide answers to whether it accounts for all, most, some, or just a few of the suicides. (For that matter, neither does my theory. But I'll get to that in a moment.) How meaningful of a cause is it, if at all?

Inherent in the general argument that it accounts for a substantial number of the suicides is the corresponding premise that during peacetime, you would expect the suicide rate in the military to match the civilian population.

Except it doesn't. In fact, historically, the data says military suicide rates were LOWER than those of the civilian population.

...during peacetime military service members historically experience lower suicide rates than the overall population.



The vast majority of service members who commit suicide do not have a documented or ascertainable major mental illness.

This conclusion is based on the individual ASER report prepared for each soldier, which examines existing medical and mental health data, as well as the cumulative published ASER and DODSER reports. This conclusion is clearly not the case in the general population, where suicide is linked to major psychiatric disorders, especially depression and bipolar disorder.


So one could argue that these people were psychologically FAR MORE STABLE than the general population before the wars. So then I imagine people will say the horrors of the current wars, including the extended deployments, were still awful enough to produce the significant result we see today.

Fair enough, except the numbers still don't explain at least a third of the rate that never deploys:

But a surprising statistic has remained relatively constant over the last 7 years: about one-third of the soldiers who commit suicide have never deployed...


Why is that?

It obviously can't be because hearing about the horrors of the war from their peers, or even the actual experience of losing some of their deployed peers, caused them to suddenly become suicidal. Moreover, if such a loose exchange of experience is enough to cause military members to suddenly off themselves, then why aren't we hearing about a dramatic and corresponding rise in suicide rates among family members, like spouses, children, siblings and parents-- all of whom I think hands down have a greater emotional investment in the service member, than do the service member's peers????

And what about when the family loses the service member to the war? Have their suicide rates substantially changed? (Maybe someone can help me look for these statistics.)

So I get that anything in isolation is possible. But isolated incidents do not rationally explain large trends in the absence of supporting data. In fact, because of this group, the prevailing view under discussion is just as speculative for this group as my theory is....

Something else primarily influences this group. And the war, and all its deployments, seem a very...distant...possibility.

And the next group (those that deployed only once) might make the rationale a little more plausible, but their number in relationship to those that deployed multiple times, produces equally odd results.

While many expected the data to show that frequent deployments could be linked to suicide risk, the data did not support that theory, as 79 percent of the suicides recorded by the Army in fiscal year 2009 were soldiers who had completed only a single deployment or had not deployed at all.


So why do the guys who were exposed to less have a greater number of suicides than the guys who are repeatedly exposed to a whole lot more horror, for longer periods of time???? It's obviously not the horror...

Moreover, while the available historical statistics suck for other wars, a few studies draw the conclusion that the rates were much lower during Vietnam War and even the Civil War:

New Study: U.S. Military Suicide Rate Now Likely Double or Triple Civil War’s

So what makes today's group so much more vulnerable???

Suddenly the HORROR theory takes on a different level of relevance, doesn't it?

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying war's horrors are not relevant. I'm saying they don't explain the the major trends. Obviously, other substantial influences are at play.

What are they?

Beats me...I'm just a guy who was arrogant enough (
) to whip out a lay theory on a conspiracy board to offer something that just might be worth considering...

But I don't have to be an expert to see that the data doesn't fully support the prevailing theory of these suicides.

We either need better data or new theories.

There are other reasons to discount the HORROR theory too. (I hope no one minds the term... It's convenient and is not intended to convey any disrespect.)

More money has been spent on education and intervention programs during the last five years, than at anytime previously in US military history. And yet, the rate continues to rise. Why?

Earlier, in another post, I made mention of the Werther Effect.

The Werther Effect is a term coined by American sociologist Dave Phillips in 1974 to describe the phenomenon that behaviors, whether self-preservative or destructive, are copied between humans by ideas manifested in language (ex: literature, music), in addition to genetics. Named after the protagonist in The Sorrows of Young Werther, this observation is closely associated with “contagious human behaviors”, including multiple personality disorder, pathological homesickness and suicide.

I had known that in the general population suicides often happen in clusters. What I did not know was that there was a term for that...and more shockingly that it had been demonstrated that even simple media exposure to suicide related material actually causes other suicides.

Now that's spooky!

The Werther effect reconsidered in light of psychological vulnerabilities: Results of a pilot study

Findings from three decades of epidemiological studies suggest that media diffusion of stories about suicide is related to increases in suicidal behaviors in the population exposed to the media reports. However, we still know little

about the psychological processes and personal vulnerabilities that prompt some people to engage in suicidal behaviors after exposure to media presentations of suicides. This cross-sectional study explored the possible impact of exposure to film suicide in normal young people.


Of the 101 participants, 70% reported being distressed by the portrayal of a suicide in a fictional film. Among those, 33% stated they felt distressed about the portrayal for several days to several weeks. The majority of the affected participants (71%) indicated having been mentally preoccupied for some time by the portrayal and experienced intrusive memories (68%). Emotional reactivity and dissociation tendencies were significant predictors of the negative reactions to the suicide film they viewed. Participants who reported that the idea had crossed their mind to imitate the suicidal protagonist in the film were 3.45 times more likely to be suicidal and tended to present higher dissociation and thought suppression propensities compared to those who did not report these thoughts.


Results suggest that fictional suicide portrayals in the media may have a deleterious impact on viewers, and such impacts do not appear to be limited to people having a clinical profile of mental disorders, as previously assumed by researchers in the field.

So maybe all that education and intervention the military has been doing actually makes the problem worse.

I'm pretty sure this should be considered too.

So much for all of those education and intervention programs-- not to mention the media coverage. They may be causing the very thing they were designed to fix.

So what's my thought on all of this?

Basically, I think we need to be expanding our horizons beyond what essentially amounts to nothing more than a 'political position' on the matter. People so readily accept the HORROR theory as the causation, likely because it matches their political notions or sensibilities concerning the war. (That isn't an accusation, it's a description.)

But unfortunately, errant causation beliefs tend to produce really poor 'solutions'.

reply to post by Benevolent Heretic

Originally posted by Benevolent Heretic
One curiosity I have regarding the military members who commit suicide before they are deployed... Is their suicide rate higher than the general public?

I'm not sure. If you or others can help find and compare the specific raw numbers, that would be great!

The answer would be very relevant.

Originally posted by Benevolent Heretic
In other words, according to your theory, are these people that haven't been deployed, somehow contracting toxoplasmosis here at home?

Well, if you're going to think in terms of pathogen, then I think you also have to think along the lines of opportunity for exposure and transmission. The truth is, you don't have to leave the states at all to get infected with toxolasmosis. We have plenty right here at home. But I'm willing to bet that over there, they have MUCH more of it.

As opportunities increase for exposure, so too do infection rates.

Remember this bit?

...[It's] the unit’s deployment history, rather than the individual’s deployment history, that contributes the most to suicide risk.

The installations with the highest suicide rates are often those with the highest deployment op-tempo (operations tempo). High op-tempo refers to rapid movement both in and out of the theater of war and back and forth to training.

Units based at installations like Fort Campbell, Fort Carson, Fort Stewart, Fort Hood, and Fort Riley have frequently deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, some as often as every other year, since 2003. Even when these units are supposedly “home,” the soldiers may still be working long, intense hours, preparing and training for the next deployment. I have been part of teams investigating all of these bases with escalating suicide rates. Over and over commanders told me, “This high op-tempo means I do not know my soldiers. There used to be all sorts of ways to incorporate a soldier into a unit—picnics, runs, and barbecues. Now we are all too busy preparing for the next deployment.”

The researcher in the source is focused on the tempo of movements and the associated stresses that causes.

I see something entirely different and much more obvious...

A physical location oddly associated with illness.

To me that suggests possible exposure to some sort of pathogen or other foreign harmful substance.

Originally posted by Benevolent Heretic
Or would they have committed suicide even if they weren't involved in the military? I don't know if it was addressed in this thread, but that one point concerns me.

I'm not sure if we would even have this kind of data available.

But it would be VERY interesting to look for whether there is a corresponding uptick in civilian suicides or of those of family members 'exposed' to those locations.

That would reveal very much, imo.

Originally posted by Benevolent Heretic
Another question would be the level of suicide among Afghanis who live there all the time. If they are exposed to the animals there, their suicide rated should match that of the Army members... Or be even higher.

I tried real hard to look for these numbers when I constructed this thread. No such luck finding any. Again, if you or others could help me search for them, that would be great.

But one point to keep in mind is that this newly discovered ability of toxoplasmosis to cause suicides seems to require an immuno-suppressed system. We'd need to look for that too, making the prospects of an answer anytime soon, really really difficult.

Originally posted by Benevolent Heretic
My initial point in the other thread is that we shouldn't be over there at all. We shouldn't have gone, Bin Ladin is dead, MANY of the people don't want us there, we have no moral reason to be there and our troops should come home, not be given drugs to deal with it.

We may vary on the details, but share similar positions in this regard.

Originally posted by Benevolent Heretic
If, when they get home, they are found to be affected by toxoplasmosis, then they should be treated. But I don't think a blanket drugging is the answer.

I do appreciate your theory, though. Very interesting.

Thanks, BH! I really enjoy seeing you around.


Apologies to the other poster's and their questions not addressed in this reply.

I need a break and will come back to address the rest.

Happy hunting, guys! Thanks for denying ignorance with me!!!

edit on 20-8-2012 by loam because: (no reason given)

posted on Aug, 20 2012 @ 10:13 PM
its really pretty simple,
STOP enlisting people 21 and under, if they cant drink , they shouldn't be allowed to kill, but when you grab kids before they are even out of high school, or you accept the completely uneducated, SEND THEM OFF TO WAR FOR 5-15 YEARS OF THIER LIFE thats when they start to realize exactly what they are doing, BAM OMG IM killing PEOPLE, INNOCENT PEOPLE I'VE NEVER MET FOR A BS WAR and that is it, SNAP, but IM sure we can spend another 60 trillion figuring out this problem while we continue to enlist babies to war, the world should make a new rule, only 55 and older can fight in a war,, buh bye baby boomers, ahh now we got cheap health care again yay

posted on Aug, 20 2012 @ 11:53 PM
reply to post by loam

Not a bad theory! Very well researched, for certain. Have you considered passing all this along to someone in the Army? Highly recommended if not! This really is a major issue, and one that is very troubling to people in the military.

posted on Aug, 20 2012 @ 11:56 PM
I think its more because harming people harms ones self.We didn't want to do it and now the lies of who we did it for are causing pain. Defenders turning into oppressors is the reason.

posted on Aug, 21 2012 @ 01:26 AM
Well TPTB look at all sheeple as just biological andriods. They dispise the idea that some of us actually think outside the box and actually think for ourselves.

When a kid gets into the army they don't want anyone thinking. They want soilders who will just obey orders unquestioningly. So they break them down, reprogram them, drug them up etc etc. And them being that age there at there peak physical health in life. So they become nothing more than killing machines.

Then at some point after a few years they basically get fired, or decommissioned. There now like 25. Too old for combat already. And starting to think for themselves. But back in the civilian life some just get totally messed up. This was huge after vietnam!

Most of them ended up starting and or joining the motorcycle gangs of the US, and other gangs. Cuz thats' all they knew. A chain of command. Killing. Revelry, anarchy etc etc. Many of them are just turned into savages. Like they're whole life revolves around base conscienceness.

Okay I lost my train of thought on this. oh ya... What I was gonna say is the Army is basically NO DIFFERENT than any cult out there. It's all the same.... 1) recruitment, 2) breaking them down 3) reprogramming 4) training them to do as the boss commands for peanuts

But I don't know. What do I know. Just pointing out the obvious.

posted on Aug, 21 2012 @ 03:13 AM
Firstly SF for such a well researched and put together piece absolutly fascinaiting.

I am an ex serving member myself. I deployed to Afghanistan in 2009 with the Australian Army as an infantry soldier. As a result I suffer from PTSD, severe insomnia, and depression I have also been suicidal since my return.

This is something I suffer from on a daily basis, all for Opium control. Bleh !!

It wasnt until we arrived in country and started our deployment that many of us realised how much of a sham this whole "war on terroism" is.

My heart goes out to all the surviving soldiers who are struggling with the things they have done. Stay strong band together, and fight back.

posted on Aug, 21 2012 @ 05:20 AM
reply to post by loam

There was a GREAT show on Coast 2 Coast tonight about this very same topic.

Joyce Riley, a nurse, and director of nursing at four institutions , was the guest. She spoke about such things as, the process in which these brave men become suicidal;

Horrible "working" conditions, surrounded by depleted Uranium, being subjected to secret testings of MOLLY, '___', and other drugs. Coming home to the VA that doesn't give 2 sheets about them, and just fills them up with psychotropic drugs, and to top it off being told you weren't a good soldier if you couldn't handle all this BS. Oh yea not to mention...the horrible atrocities that take place during war. The senseless killings.

These soldiers come home and start to wonder, why did i kill those certain people? Why couldn't i ask any questions,? what did i do? What do i do now?

It's a topic that needs a TON more attention, and its a darnn shame that some of these men come home, try to seek the help they crucially need, and are told "You aren't a Vet", "You're files are missing", or get put on a waiting list where when they actually get the opportunity to go in, the tests they actually need don't get done.

Thank you OP for the post. I hope some of this information can help you add to your own theory.

posted on Aug, 21 2012 @ 05:24 AM
While listening to Coast to Coast Sunday evening,I heard this come over the news about the spike (Kiro news)I heard something that made me even sicker and more saddened by this mess.

Im sorry I cant find a direct link to the quote,but some military spokesperson said 'we anticipate this leveling out in the next few years'.So uh,otherwords,are they just saying something to the effect of 'dont worry,this will pass eventually' and thats that?

Btw to TOP,excellent post!Maybe you have knowledge of this quote I am referring to.

posted on Aug, 21 2012 @ 06:54 AM
The great Tom Waits has written a song titled "hell broke luce"is about Jeff Lucey (Luce). It is a very straight to the point song about this very subject. Here is a thread about that. This is the song "Hell Broke Luce" off Tom Waits' 2011 album Bad As Me. Written about Iraqi war veteran Jeff Lucey who had PTSD and committed suicide after returning home from Iraq.
here is a link to the lyrics , i wont post them here as a few expletives are thrown in

posted on Aug, 21 2012 @ 07:34 AM
Just one more point. I suspect the horrors of the Civil War or even of Vietnam are minimal compared to the horrors current day experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan's modern wars. Hardly anything is the same as it was 40 years ago. I don't know what the troops are seeing and experiencing these days, but I do suspect that certain human life has been reduced in their eyes to that of less than a dog... And they probably have a hard time rationalizing that with valuing their own lives.

In my mind, from what I've seen and heard, the horrors of this war doesn't compare to that of wars of the past.

posted on Aug, 21 2012 @ 08:13 AM
Well it seems this theory has made it to the msm.

Not that you want to believe everything they publish, could be dissinfo on the increase in suicides, could be a sound theory, who knows?

I must say op, your thread was much more informative than the daily mail article. S+F

posted on Aug, 21 2012 @ 10:18 AM
reply to post by loam

Excellent response. I enjoyed reading that.

And so I also took up your suggestion about looking for numbers and I found this report which is very intriguing and gives a bunch of data, too...well-supported:
Howell and Wool The War Comes Home
It is a 19-page pdf file...I read most of it and skimmed the rest...the main gist of this paper is also, like you said (and I agree it is not just ONE single cause), it is a complex problem with countless impacting issues.

And they seem to have it basically attributable to two main causes, which are both complex in their own being the HORROR factor you so aptly named...and the other being STRESS.

Namely the frequency and duration of deployments, and the inadequate breaks between...the stress on family at home or away is compounded as is the personal factor.

There does not seem to be one aspect of a soldier's life which is not possibly affected negatively by the intense, fast and furious pace of the horrors of war...coining a hybrid phrase...

Since it is a pdf, I will leave off quoting it but it goes right away into the meaningful data.

The other point they make is that this appears to be something inherited post 9/11.
I believe that, for sure.

posted on Aug, 21 2012 @ 10:22 AM

Originally posted by Benevolent Heretic
Just one more point. I suspect the horrors of the Civil War or even of Vietnam are minimal compared to the horrors current day experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan's modern wars. Hardly anything is the same as it was 40 years ago. I don't know what the troops are seeing and experiencing these days, but I do suspect that certain human life has been reduced in their eyes to that of less than a dog... And they probably have a hard time rationalizing that with valuing their own lives.

In my mind, from what I've seen and heard, the horrors of this war doesn't compare to that of wars of the past.

In my search yesterday, I found this article about that very thing.

In a recent study (Frueh & Smith, 2012) we reviewed historical medical records on suicide deaths among Union forces during the U.S. Civil War (1861-1865), a brutal war that many consider the first modern one, and for the year immediately after the war to estimate the suicide rate among its Union combatants. We also reviewed these same historical records for data on rates of alcohol abuse and other probable psychiatric illnesses.

White active-duty Union military personnel suicide rates ranged from 8.74 – 14.54 per 100,000 during the Civil War, and surged to 30.4 the year after the war. For black Union troops, rates ranged from 17.7 in the first year of their entry into the war (1863), to 0 in their second year, and 1.8 in the year after the war.

For comparison, the current rate of U.S. military suicides is just over 20 per 100,000 troops. To further put these figures into current context, there were more military suicides in 2010 (total suicides = 295), than during the entire four years of the Civil War, for which we found 278 documented Union suicides, and forces were of comparable size.

Thus, current suicide rates in the U.S. military are probably two to three times higher than those documented during the Civil War. Rates for other available psychological domains, including chronic alcoholism, “nostalgia,” and insanity, were extremely low (< 1.0%) by modern day standards during the Civil War.

The article is prefaced with a paragraph including this statement:

The Army itself has only been keeping accurate suicide statistics for about 30 years, making historical comparisons difficult.

posted on Aug, 21 2012 @ 12:14 PM
That can be something in connection with supplies... Maybe some unusual additives, or similar? A kind of diversion, subversion, etc.?
Some drugs producing suicidal tendencies?
edit on 21-8-2012 by dragnik because: adding

posted on Aug, 21 2012 @ 12:56 PM
Despite what anybody in the military may tell you, soldiers are human beings. Most of them are very young and join the military to get out of poverty. The military is secure, has certain benefits and allows you to get a degree. It's a better choice than to live in the street. An honest way out.

Unfortunately, the US is more involved in conflicts than any other country in the world and recruits will be deployed. Young soldiers (kids actually) have been seriously mislead and used for a purpose that most of them think of as less than honorable.

If the brass and the elite wants to murder, let them do it themselves or their kids. You won't see them in a battlefield, ever.

posted on Aug, 21 2012 @ 02:40 PM
Very extensive research OP. thanks for your diligence

posted on Aug, 21 2012 @ 03:23 PM
reply to post by loam

Honestly, this is brilliant.

To be completely honest with ATS, I am current military and have done a tour in Iraq. Even though I NEVER sought help, I had a crazy moment or two while deployed. I wont say suicidal, because you never know who is watching, but.......=P

And come to think of it, I was always messing around with the cats on the FOB....

Petting them, getting scratched by them, feeding them.........

Wow. You should delve into more details and submit your findings to DoD. May even find yourself landing a cushy job! Star and Flag!

posted on Aug, 21 2012 @ 03:40 PM
Do you guys think coloidal sillver could work on a latent cyst?
edit on 21/8/2012 by PapagiorgioCZ because: (no reason given)

posted on Aug, 21 2012 @ 05:16 PM
I honestly wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't a combination of many things, including this. A lot of things that have been mentioned could be innocent enough by themselves, but when you combine multiple things over a period of time, it could be enough to turn even the sanest person to something like suicide.

Either way, this is a very well researched thread, and its nice to see everyone having a levelheaded discussion for a change.

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