Mention of military often focuses attention to the U.S military due to their capability being the best trained, often most dedicated and most respected soldiers in the world today. They are entrusted with the protection of the United States’ freedom both at home and away. This secure the homeland and in most cases aid in defending of the democracy worldwide. These soldiers, at least in the U.S army are entrusted with the physical strength, strength of purpose and also emotional strength. They are expected to serve the country from all corners, from wherever, whenever as they are needed to be combat ready, trained and able to deal with a threat anywhere at any point.
However, the U.S military has been on the constant focus due to the increasing prevalence of military suicide since 2004. This has since then been the most pressing issue to the mental health professional and suicide experts attempting to help solve the seeming uncurbed problem. Despite the efforts being made by different stake holders in the military department, the suicide rates have barely decreased. The frustrations leading to the increasing prevalence in the suicide rates has been associated with so many factors, questions and other assumptions in addition to the approaches to the military suicide prevention measures that can be taken to curb these prevalence(Ghahramanlou & Brown, p. 18)
Suicide is a big problem and in most cases, the first contributing factor that comes to mind is the economic stagnation of the country. The economic downtown has pointed to the glimmer that the military personnel are influenced as well by the economic problem the country experiences despite huge expenditures in the country being reported to be mainly concentrated in the defense wing of the government expenditures. This means that the families of these armed men and women are affected by the economic situation as well thus majority have to depend on their spouses, parents and relatives in the military to help meet their needs. This therefore cause a situation of too much need than their pay can supply thus causing stress to the military personnel resulting to increasing chances of suicides. This has been going on and has been worsened by the 9/11 tragedy that hugely hit the economy resulting to an economic recession thereafter. The efforts by the government, cooperation with the volunteers, the civic groups and other local government officials may have not borne too much fruit useful in the mitigation of the problem.
Related to the economic downturn of the country, bankruptcy, a personal failure remains a threat to the military personnel. This is a situation of personal problems resulting to the temporary economic halt. In most cases, bankruptcy associated to the people of uniform who may have huge families and large dependents often find it excruciating on their economic wellbeing thereby resulting to their miserable deaths especially when their demands are not met yet they are the breadwinners in their otherwise large families. The problem of bankruptcy also results into close family friends, relatives and other friends in the combat distancing themselves with such colleagues in shame, a situation that increases the feeling of isolation especially when they need help most from friends, families and relatives thus resulting to the victims opting to take off their lives.
In order to help curb the increasing military suicide, the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans have all pulled together to improve the mental health services as well as their accessibility in addition to promoting national suicide prevention crisis to ensure the emotional crisis of the veterans access immediate counseling from the trained individuals. The mental health community at large has also implemented outreach and treatment services to military personnel and families through such efforts as offering no-cost or reduced-fee services. Despite these impressive and admirable efforts, however, suicide rates have by and large not decreased—a frustrating reality for military leaders and mental health professionals alike.
The question that rings in most people’s mind right now involves but not limited to what has changed about the nature of military affiliation that members are now more likely to kill themselves? Why have we not been more successful in stemming this mounting problem of military suicide? Why are an increasing number of service members killing themselves despite increased focus on suicide prevention, mental health promotion, and improved access to mental health care? To answer these questions, we propose that the profession must begin to understand suicide from within the context of the military culture. The U.S. military differs in many ways from the general population both in terms of demographics and, more critically, in its culture and its raison d’etre. These differences create both protective factors and vulnerabilities to suicide that are critical for successful implementation of suicide prevention efforts and clinical treatment for suicidal service members, and call into question common assumptions about the transportability of common suicide prevention approaches utilized within the general population, many of which have very limited to no data supporting their effectiveness
(Jobes & Joyner p 41).
Another point to support the increasing prevalence of suicide in the military is due to the increase of mental disorders among the military population. According to the medical tests, the rise of mental disorders is as a result of occupational stress over time due to the numerous years at war. Despite is proved by the fact that there has been increasing number of suicide deaths from 10.3 to 11.3 per 10,000 heads in 2008. However, the number has since been on the increase to 16.3 per the same head count. This proves to the point that the military suicide has been in the incline.
Likewise, mental disorders as opposed to the experience of treading over the dead bodies at war or participation in the heinous machinations at war, are the main causes of the increasing disorders that have been reported. The mental disorders are as a result of increasing distribution to various war zones as places of work, a situation that results to the post-traumatic stress disorder to the veterans. As pointed out, increase in the number of active duty service people with mental disorders are as a result of being involved in the military that has been in the war for so long and are often with the individuals who have been at war for so long as well.
Reports have pointed that on average, U.S military combat commits suicide in every 80 minutes. Suicides associated with active soldiers has increased by 15 percent since 2012 showing that more soldiers take off their lives every year than have been killed in military attach or any form of retaliation by their attackers. However, there has been reported increase in the lives lost especially from the Iraq war by the military combats since then. For instance, in 2009, there were over 330 members of the armed forces who committed suicide contrary to the 319 who were killed in Iraq (Jobes and Joyner, p20).
In addition, social conditions that the military personnel are faced with in most cases contribute to their dire outlook on life. For instance, as of September 2012, more of the 25000 veterans were reportedly living in the streets, risk losing their houses or are housed in temporary buildings since they cannot afford the cost of a decent house. Others live in the verge of becoming homeless, while others are living at the mercy of their fellow veterans. This type of social life in addition to other social requirements including negligence by family members, close friends and other close acquaintances often influence the lives of the military veterans thus resulting to the possibility of the rise in the suicidal incidences in the combat.
Another common and huge factor often associated with causes of military suicide is the idea of cultural disparities. In order to understand the military suicide from this perspective therefore requires the individuals to recognize the context in culture within which the members who serve the country live, train and are expected to work. The military is the only organization in the U.S and any other country where the members are mandated and trained literally with the aim of killing other people. They are expected to use aggression as well as violence in the so called “serving the nation” with an attempt to ensure security as the main interest and driving purpose to the members and the program.
However, in order to accomplish the requirements of the program and be considered mature to face the battle field, the members undergo a rapid and intense practice process beginning from the basic military training, booting at the camp, recruit training and basic combat. Intense training is ensure throughout the duration and period of their career. The combats are trained to be warriors and are expected to embrace the spirit of the culture without questioning. The requirement of integrity, selfless service duty, courage in the face of adversity as well as being dutiful are also some of the qualities that are required at the barracks. Granted, some of these values may not be universally accepted from one culture to another. As such, other people who may not buy into some of these requirements are forced to go against their culture and do other requirements as expected of them by the service requirement. This therefore makes it hard for these people top recollect themselves and come to terms with reality about some of these issues. In cases like that, the individuals in most cases ended up being in an internal debate about them and what they expect When their individuals demands override their beliefs and values, there exists a internal dispute within them resulting to suicides. This is because they barely accept some of their work requirements but they rarely have an option of quitting the job as the demands on them are higher too that without the income, they will end up still committing suicide.
As I already pointed out the view that is held by some writers, the military culture values strength, resilience, courage, and personal sacrifice in the face of adversity; perceived weakness or illness is eschewed. Effectively managing distress and pain is a cultural expectation; service members are reinforced explicitly and implicitly to ‘‘shake off’’ injury and illness and told to ‘‘suck it up’’ (Ghahramanlo & Brown p. 23). To illustrate, service members are trained to continue fighting instead of immediately rendering first aid to injured comrades since providing medical care effectively disengages an additional person from the fight. This can further imperil the entire unit. To increase fighting efficiency and likelihood of survival, service members are therefore trained to quickly stabilize themselves when injured and immediately reengage in the fight—a sequence of actions that requires a remarkable tolerance for physical pain and the mental determination to not succumb to injury or pain.
Because the capacity to tolerate pain and discomfort has long been viewed as a psychological habituation process, service members are frequently trained to use cognitive strategies to overcome pain and discomfort. It requires getting other psychological strategies such as emotional suppression and experiential avoidance are also frequently used as adaptive responses to the realities of combat.
In addition, suppressing fear, anger, grief, and self-doubt to remain calm and focused during combat is a highly adaptive to the service member. The military teaches personnel how to tolerate extreme physical and psychological discomfort because it is necessary for maximizing combat effectiveness. The result is an expectation that service members can handle high levels of suffering and to never give up. From the perspective of traditional mental health, suppression and avoidance have long been linked to mental health conditions including depression and anxiety disorders (Hayes, Wilson, Gifford et al., p.34), as well as non-suicidal self-injury, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts (Jobes & Wong, p31). From the viewpoint of traditional mental health, it therefore seems contradictory for a culture that prizes mental toughness and hardiness to employ strategies shown to be associated with vulnerability to mental health problems. From this illustration, it shows that the very skills and characteristics that make for an effective warrior can also function as an inadvertent pathway to suicide.
In conclusion therefore, suicidal acts are eminent in most of the military personal. These ideas resulting to individuals committing suicide often range from planned fleeting in a detailed way before finally taking the individuals life. These people who often commit suicide in most cases do carry it through and in some time of their struggling career do try to make attempts of taking their lives. Some often plan to deliberately take off their lives an act that sometimes may be discovered before it hatches while others fully succeed in this act of taking off their life. Majority of the people who take off their lives in most cases have discussed their lives and personal health issues with some specialist of some type. That said, the suicidal rates in the military might have some other parties to blame as either proper counseling is not accorded or the individuals who get privy to such information don’t take too much notice to give attention on the same. Suicidal deaths have influenced most of families and thereby some urgent sweeping attention need to be taken in order to help curb future occurrences of the same and reduce the death rates in the military, resulting from suicide. This will help the military and other forces have a better view from the outside thereby encourage more people to participate in the defense of the country as it will not be associated with otherwise true stereotypes that have ion most cases exposed to be the order of the day in the military.
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