The COVID-19 pandemic is responsible for so much damage to this country, but a recent report also shows us its effect on our men and women in the military who have succumbed to the stress and depression it brought and sadly taken their own lives.
According to the Associated Press, military suicides are up a whole 20 percent this year compared to 2019:
Military suicides have increased by as much as 20% this year compared to the same period in 2019, and some incidents of violent behavior have spiked as service members struggle under COVID-19, war-zone deployments, national disasters and civil unrest.
While the data is incomplete and causes of suicide are complex, Army and Air Force officials say they believe the pandemic is adding stress to an already strained force.
And senior Army leaders — who say they’ve seen about a 30% jump in active duty suicides so far this year — told The Associated Press that they are looking at shortening combat deployments. Such a move would be part of a broader effort to make the wellbeing of soldiers and their families the Army’s top priority, overtaking combat readiness and weapons modernization.
The exact numbers are heartbreaking. The Army, in particular, saw a 30 percent spike, going from 88 to 114 this year. The Army Guard is up 10 percent, jumping from 78 to 86. The AP reported that the 2018 rate for active-duty military suicides was 24.8 per 100,000, while the overall civilian rate for that year was 14.2, but the rate for younger civilian men ranged from 22.7 to 27.7 per 100,000. These numbers were acquired from the National Institute of Mental Health.
Looking at the data, the Army concluded that much of the depression stemmed from lockdown measures.
According to James Helis of the Army’s resilience programs, the suicides were the result of “virus-related isolation, financial disruptions, remote schooling, and loss of child care all happening almost overnight.”
“We know that the measures we took to mitigate and prevent the spread of COVID could amplify some of the factors that could lead to suicide,” said Helis.
In addition to all of this, extended deployments and natural disasters have put our troops in a bad way emotionally. Now, our military is taking steps to make sure they recover:
Gen. James McConville, Army chief of staff, said there’s new attention to giving service members “the time that they need to come back together and recover.”
“We were very focused on readiness four years ago because we had some readiness challenges, and we did a great job. The force is very, very ready now. But I think it’s time now to focus on people,” he told the AP.
McConville and Army Sgt. Maj. Michael Grinston said units have begun “stand-up” days, where commanders focus on bringing people together, making sure they connect with each other and their families and ensuring they have strong values in how they treat each other.
The pandemic and its subsequent lockdowns have made the populace in general fall into dangerous depressions, too many of which have resulted in suicides. According to the CDC, 25.5 percent of Americans aged 18 to 24 have contemplated suicide in just the last month.
— Phil Kerpen (@kerpen) August 13, 2020
New CDC data has made it a question as to whether or not the lockdowns were necessary, especially for young, working-class people, as their survival rates are enormously high, with only a .02 percent chance of a fatal case happening to the populace aged 20-49 and a .003 percent chance for those 0-19.
— Carole Maskin (@justanurse25) September 28, 2020