The stereotype of the soldier who kills himself—a combat veteran plagued by post-traumatic stress -— is a familiar one to Craig Bryan, the associate director of the National Center of Veterans’ Studies at the University of Utah. “That is the storyline that we have created in our society because it’s a simple storyline and it intuitively makes sense,” he says. “The problem is that the data doesn’t support the notion that it is as simple as combat leads directly to suicide risk.” | PRI's The World
Why Soldiers Keep Losing to Suicide | Foreign Affairs / Defense | FRONTLINE | PBS
And although the military’s suicide problem flared during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, so far it doesn’t seem to be ending with them.US Lost More Troops to Suicide Than Combat in 2012 -- News from Antiwar.com
About 53 percent of those who died by suicide in the military in 2011, the most recent year for which data is available, had no history of deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan, according (pdf) to the Defense Department. And nearly 85 percent of military members who took their lives had no direct combat history, meaning they may have been deployed but not seen action.
In 2011 the US military lost 165 soldiers to suicide, a record that narrowly beat the 2009 level of 160. This year things have gotten much, much worse, and up to the end of November the suicide deaths are up to 303.
Putting this in perspective, that’s actually quite a bit more than the number of US troops slain in combat so far in 2012. That figure is 212, though the overall US death toll in Afghanistan is 307, including non-combat deaths.