Washington Post got military suicide research wrong
January 19, 2020
One would think that an article on something as serious as military suicides would require diligent research, before presenting it as such. So, why did Washington Post not notice research should be about facts, not just what they see?
The Houston Chronicle posted from The Washington Post, Can historical analysis help reduce military deaths by suicide? by Jeffrey Allen Smith, Michael Doidge, Ryan Hanoa and B. Christopher Frueh, January 17, 2020,
"At the dawn of a new decade, it is time to broaden the scope of research and use history to inform our problem-solving and the policies we develop as result. Incorporating historical data can help scientific researchers recognize and separate chronic forces from acute factors affecting suicide rates. Instead of analyzing military suicide over the past 20, 50 or 70 years, what if we examined available records and documents from the past 200? We did just this in a recently published study."but the problem is, others have been looking at historical facts for a lot longer. While these are great questions,
"Examining historical patterns can assist policymakers and the military in addressing the factors causing it. For example, we must now ask ourselves what is different and unique about the war on terrorism? Why do the best efforts of the Defense Department, modern psychiatry and dramatically expanded mental health programs not result in lower suicide rates, instead of higher ones? What is different about today's force than yesterday's?"the rest of the article did little to answer them, especially when so much was wrong with the article itself.
"Following World War II, to maintain commitments abroad, the United States drafted a standing army larger than ever before. To enhance retention and keep the U.S. military competitive with the private sector, President Dwight Eisenhower championed expanded access to housing and health care for service members and their families in his 1954 State of the Union address. Improvements to both followed in the years ahead."Well, they had the draft in other wars all the way up to Vietnam. It omitted why the rate went down, and that is because during WWII, when a service member showed signs of mental health stress, they were sent back home. During the Korean War, they were treated by clinicians embedded with the troops. If they could return to duty after therapy, they did, otherwise, they were sent back home.
As for Vietnam, the DEROS deployments took care of that because when their year was up, they were on their way back home, before they could understand something was clearly wrong. When asked about any problems before discharge, they denied they had any problems so they could go home.
They also did not notice this article from U.S. Army Medial Department
Incidence of Mental DisordersAs for OEF and OIF, the increase in suicides was predicted by Wounded Times back in 2009, following the release of Comprehensive Soldier Fitness.
Rates of hospitalization for mental disorders in Army personnel during the postwar period (1920-30) ranged from 11 to 12 per 1,000 men per year.19 These rates included admissions for "mental alienation" (dementia praecox, manic depressive psychosis, general paresis, alcoholic and other organic psychoses, mental deficiency, constitutional psychopathic states, hypochondriasis) and various neurotic disorders (hysteria, neurasthenia, psychasthenia, psychoneurosis, neurocirculatory asthenia). The incidence of psychotic disorders during this period was from 2 to 3 per 1,000 per annum. Excluded from the preceding mental disease categories were admissions for neurological diseases, drug addiction, and acute and chronic alcoholism. Admissions for alcoholism alone during this 10-year period were from 7 to 8 per 1,000 per annum, a marked decrease from rates of approximately 16 per 1,000 per annum for alcohol admissions in the decade prior to World War I (1907-16) before the establishment of the National Prohibition Act. That mental disorders constituted a major medical problem in the postwar era is indicated by the following data:
1. Suicide was the leading cause of death in military personnel in this decade (over 0.5 per 1,000 strength per annum).
2. Mental disorders as a class were the largest cause for medical discharge with a rate of 6 to 7 per 1,000 strength per annum, which indicated that more than one-half of the admissions eventuated in discharge.
3. Dementia praecox was the leading single disease cause for medical discharge (2 to 3 per 1,000 strength per annum).
4. In general, mental disorders, excluding alcoholism and drug addiction, were first as a cause for discharge, fifth or sixth as a cause for hospital admissions, and third or fourth in producing loss of duty time for medical reasons.
5. Mental disorders were the leading cause for medical evacuation from oversea stations.
If you promote this program the way Battlemind was promoted, count on the numbers of suicides and attempted suicides to go up instead of down. It's just one more deadly mistake after another and just as dangerous as sending them into Iraq without the armor needed to protect them.And this was part of that article on Wounded Times
Ever notice the vast majority of the men and women you command end up carrying out the mission they are given, fighting fiercely and showing great courage even though they are already carrying the wound inside of them? They fulfill their duty despite flashbacks and nightmares draining them because their duty comes first to them. Do you understand how much that takes for them to do that? Yet you think telling them their minds are not tough enough will solve the problem? What kind of a tough mind do you think they needed to have to fight on despite this killing pain inside of them?As with everything else, facts are still facts, no matter if they are acknowledged or not.
"This relatively stable paradigm lasted until the beginning the 21st century and the dawn of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, when the suicide rate increased once more, eventually spiking at 29.7 per 100,000 in 2012. By February 2007, medical cost-cutting and rising numbers of traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder diagnoses had overwhelmed the military."They left out how Vietnam veterans came home and fought for all the research and funding going toward understanding PTSD. They left out how many "efforts" produced billions in increased funding, along with "awareness" at the same time suicides did in fact increase. Not just within the military, but among those in the veteran community.
And they got this wrong too!
While the Army's active duty suicide rate has dropped from the 2012 peak, it has remained around 20 to 30 per 100,000. While in the past, periods of war seem to have lowered suicide rates, that correlation became inverted first during the decades-long conflict in Vietnam and the almost-two-decade wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Correlation is not causation, but the current elevated rates appear to be indicative of a bedeviling new paradigm.Naturally they omitted that in 2012 there were less serving because the size of the military was cut due to sequestration and the end of the War in Iraq. This is from PolitiFact in 2015.
In 2012, the Army had about 570,000 soldiers. Reductions over several years have taken it down to its current size of about 490,000. Rubio was referring to the Army’s announcement in July that it plans to cut the regular Army from 490,000 to 450,000 by fiscal year 2018, or a total of 40,000 positions.They keep getting Vietnam wrong too, considering it was claiming lives of US service members since the 50's and the last to be killed came in 1975.
This is from the DOD yearly report on military suicides.
Add Active Duty with Reserve Components. It has averaged 500 a year since 2012. Nothing will ever change until reporters get serious about what they put out as facts!