Broadcast News Coverage Of New Army Suicide Figures

Broadcast News Coverage Of New Army Suicide Figures
May 30th, 2008  
Team Infidel

Topic: Broadcast News Coverage Of New Army Suicide Figures

Broadcast News Coverage Of New Army Suicide Figures
May 29, 2008 NBC Nightly News, 7:00 PM
BRIAN WILLIAMS: There is unsettling news tonight about the mental health of this nation’s men and women in uniform and the increasing number who are turning to desperate measures.
For more on that we turn to NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski, who’s on duty tonight at the Pentagon. And, Jim, what we were able to learn, especially about trends, from these numbers?
JIM MIKLASZEWSKI: Well, you know, Brian, this is the highest number of suicides since the Army started keeping such records nearly 30 years ago. One hundred fifteen soldiers committed suicide last year. That’s up 13 percent from the year before. More than one-third took their lives while in Iraq or Afghanistan. In fact, while the size of the Army has remained pretty much the same, there’s been a steep and steady increase in the number of suicides since 2001, when the U.S. first invaded Afghanistan. Not surprising, more frequent and longer combat tours and easy access to firearms are cited as major contributing factors.
Now, given the tremendous stress on the force, Army officials acknowledge they need to take better care of their troops. But, Brian, so far already this year the number of soldiers who have committed suicide matches last year’s record rate.
WILLIAMS: Jim Miklaszewski, at the Pentagon for us tonight. Jim, thanks.
CBS Evening News, 6:30 PM
KATIE COURIC: One of the great tragedies of the war in Iraq is the growing number of U.S. soldiers taking their own lives. The Army had a new report on that today. From the Pentagon, here’s David Martin.
DAVID MARTIN: The troop surge in Iraq helped stem the violence, but it also produced a surge in Army suicides.
COL. ELSPETH RITCHIE [Director, Proponency of Behavioral Health, U.S. Army]: It is increased. It’s been going up – not by that much, but by a significant number every year.
MARTIN: One hundred fifteen in 2007, up from 102 the year before. In fact, more than any year since the Army started keeping records. One quarter of the suicides occurred in Iraq or Afghanistan.
RITCHIE: All too commonly, a soldier will get a “Dear John” or a “Dear Jane” e-mail and then go and shoot themselves, and that is often very hard to prevent.
MARTIN: A private organization known as TAPS, which helps families of fallen service men, is dealing with more and more cases of suicide.
BONNIE CARROLL [CEO, TAPS]: Today, almost a third of the phone calls TAPS receives on a daily basis are from families who have suffered a loss to suicide.
MARTIN: Whatever the specific reason behind a suicide, the war is more than likely a contributing factor.
RITCHIE: There is the extended time away from home. There is the exposure to really horrifying violence. And then there’s the availability of loaded weapons.
MARTIN: There have been as many as 50 more Army suicides since January. If that rate continues, this year will be as bad as last. David Martin, CBS News, the Pentagon.
CNN Newsroom, 2:00 PM
T.J. HOLMES: One hundred and eight U.S. Army soldiers died in 2007. Not from war, not from accident, not from illness. They killed themselves. And that number is high, possibly the highest ever, and the trend is actually going up. The Pentagon is talking about military suicide today.
We want to bring in our senior Pentagon correspondent there, Jamie McIntyre.
Jamie, this is -- you know, it's one thing. You expect a certain number of military deaths when it comes to war, but you don't like to hear about them like this.
JAMIE MCINTYRE: Well, these numbers released by the U.S. Army today show the number of U.S. soldiers, active duty soldiers, committing suicide has hit an all-time high. In fact the updated number, we're told, 115 soldiers took their own lives last year, and the number of suicide attempts is skyrocketing as well. The reason, says the Army, is as complicated and as simple as the war itself.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MCINTYRE: The Army believes the explanation for the dramatic jump in suicides is the stress of war. Not so much on the soldiers, but on love and marriage.
LT. COL. RAN DOLINGER, U.S. ARMY CHAPLAIN: The real central issue is relationships. Relationships, relationships, relationships.
MCINTYRE: Army Chief Chaplain Ran Dolinger has seen it firsthand. A "Dear John" e-mail or phone call can be the trigger.
DOLINGER: One of the guy who just went through a suicide class got a phone call right afterwards. He walked right through the unit, he went into an armored personnel carrier, and he shot himself.
MCINTYRE: So, the war breaks up families, causes PTSD, and those things lead to more suicides. Both the raw numbers and the suicide rates are steadily climbing. The rate for 2007, 18.8 per 100,000 soldiers, is the highest since the military started keeping records. And suicide attempts, according to the Army figures, are skyrocketing from 375 back in 2002, to more than 2,100 last year.
And no longer is the typical victim a young male.
COL. ELSPETH RITCHIE, CHIEF ARMY PSYCHIATRIST: Now we are seeing more womenkilling themselves, and we're also seeing older soldiers killing themselves.
MCINTYRE: The Army says more than half of the suicides are among troops who are never deployed or who have been home from the war zones for more than a year. And officials say the biggest problem is that victims don't seek help.
RITCHIE: The really tough area here is stigma. We know that soldiers don't want to go seek care. They're tough. They're strong. They don't want to go see a behavioral health care provider. (END VIDEOTAPE)
MCINTYRE: And T.J., in the past, when the Army could show that suicide rates were rising, they could still always point to the fact that the military rate was significantly lower than suicides in the civilian world. But that is no longer the case. While technically the rate is slightly below the civilian rate for an adjusted population, it's so close that it's statistically insignificant -- T.J.
HOLMES: All right. Jamie McIntyre. An important story, something that certainly needs to be looked into for these soldiers. Jamie, we appreciate you.

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