Monday, October 13, 2003

Army probes soldier suicides 

Creepy news story. Especially after receiving a campus-wide email about the second undergrad jumping to death off the 10th floor of the Bobst library in a month.

Alarmed by the number of suicides among soldiers in Iraq, the Army has asked a team of doctors to determine whether the stress of combat and long deployments is contributing to the deaths.

"The number of suicides has caused the Army to be concerned," said Lt. Col. Elspeth Cameron Ritchie, a psychiatrist at the Army's Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md. Ritchie is helping to investigate the suicides in Iraq. "Is there something different going on in Iraq that we really need to pay attention to?" (Related story: Soldier's suicide shocks Pa. town)

In the past seven months, at least 11 soldiers and three Marines have committed suicide in Iraq, military officials say. That is an annual rate of 17 per 100,000. The Navy also is investigating one possible suicide. And about a dozen other Army deaths are under investigation and could include suicides.

The numbers suggest the rate in Iraq is above normal. Last year, the military services reported 8 to 9 suicides per 100,000 people. The Army rate is usually higher, 10 to 13 per 100,000. That mirrors the rate for the same age group in the general population.

Full story.


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