Washington-Six soldiers stationed in Alaska died in apparent suicide in the first five months of the year. This is an astonishing number of deaths after the Army has poured more than $ 200 million into the state to combat the mental health crisis identified in 2019. An army figure released in USA today.
The 2021 suicides of approximately 11,500 soldiers stationed there were stationed last year in Alaska, a joint base of Fairbanks’ Fort Wayne Wright and Anchorage, with Elmendorf-Richardson as the main post. It’s almost the same as when seven soldiers committed suicide while they were there.
The overall military suicide rate is comparable to the civilian population, but the suicide rate within a relatively small population of Alaska-based soldiers appears to be nearly four times higher than the typical U.S. rate. ..
Significant stresses in the lives of soldiers stationed in Alaska include a cold of -60 degrees Celsius, frequent training and deployment, and geographical and social isolation. The relatively high cost of living, alcohol abuse, sleep disorders, and their long, dark winters in the midnight sun country can also contribute to mental health problems. According to the CDC, Alaska had the second highest suicide rate in the country in 2019.
The Army identified these issues after responding to a suicide group of 11 Fort Wayne Wright soldiers from January 2014 to March 2019. According to a 2019 report, in a survey of 4,000 soldiers, 10.8% expressed their thoughts on suicide.
“Soldiers have identified isolation, stigma, limited resources, inadequate coping skills, alcohol use, and poor quality of life in (Fort Wayne Wright) as factors they perceive to contribute to suicidal behaviour. Identified, “the report said.
“It’s a pain,” said Maj. Gen. Peter Andrisiac, Commander General of the United States Army. Andrysiak confirms suicide with a friend of the soldier and his immediate boss. He said it wasn’t clear among the devastated companions if they believed that the soldiers who died in suicide lacked a sense of belonging or no one cares.
“It’s not what you see in the room,” Andrysiak said. “These people were wrecked.”
Research also found that about one-third of Fort Wayne Wright soldiers had sleep problems. The range of sunlight is from 4 hours a day in December to 21 hours a day in June. Soldiers expressed concern about access to nutritious, high-quality food, and one-third were worried that they didn’t have enough money to buy it. According to a third survey, their leaders tolerated dangerous drinking during off-hours.
Soldiers from the Fort Wayne Wright First Striker Brigade explained that life in the post was harsh and training and deployment confused the family. Especially difficult for young soldiers leaving home for the first time. Soldiers who were not allowed to speak publicly said the COVID-19 pandemic had effectively closed the base, as it was expensive to go to Fairbanks in peacetime.
He said the soldiers stationed there were keenly aware of the danger of suicide and most were affected by suicide.
Suicide is “not going in the right direction” for the army, the nation
In the United States, the overall age-adjusted suicide rate increased by 35.2% from 10.5 per 100,000 in 1999 to 14.2 per 100,000 in 2018, according to the National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry. In 2019, it decreased to 13.9 per 100,000.
The US military suicide rate was 25.9 per 100,000 in 2019, 24.9 per 100,000 in 2018, and 21.9 per 100,000 in 2017. It has been steadily increasing from 18.5 in 2014. Per 100,000 service members. A Pentagon report said recent numbers are equivalent to “but not going in the right direction.” Army suicides increased from 146 in 2019 to 173 in 2020.
In the case of the Army in Alaska, there were eight suicides among soldiers in 2019, seven in 2020, and six apparent suicides so far in 2021.
Andrysiak said six soldiers committed suicide in 2021, but investigations into their deaths continue.
Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski said Andrisiak explained the “warning number” last month.
“One suicide is too much,” she said in a statement Thursday. “Tragedy, suicide increased within the military community in 2020, including Alaska. When I first heard that military suicide increased by 20% last year alone, I revisited the statistics. I asked him to confirm, hoping it was a mistake. Sadly, it’s true. “
Unlike previous years, soldiers who died of suicide do not fit the profile of young white men, Andrisiac said. They are no longer gathered at Fort Wayne Wright. Three people were killed at the Elmendorf Richardson Joint Base. Two of the soldiers were women, two were Hispanics, and one was black.
“It broke the mold of what you usually see in demographics about how these things happen in the military,” Andrysiak said.
One of the soldiers was Cary Harris, who was promoted to specialist after committing suicide in May. Harris’ mother told USA TODAY that she had been sexually assaulted in January, ten days after her daughter appeared as a lesbian in the unit. The following month, Cary Harris expressed his thoughts on suicide and received counseling. She died a few days after encountering an attacker allegedly assigned to the same building for training exercises, despite a non-contact order.
Soldier’s mother demands hate crime penalties for troops
Carrie Harris, the mother of the deceased soldier Cary Harris, believes that the alleged daughter attacker should be charged with hate crimes in Cary’s rape.
Doral Chenowes, Columbus Dispatch
Suicide: no single cause or single solution
In a 2019 report, Army officials stipulated a range of remedies, from barracks blackout curtains to ensuring better sleep, enhanced food service, and strengthening of mental health counselor staff. .. The Army planned to build new facilities for soldiers to maintain equipment in the winter, purchase new gym equipment, and build new settlements. In fiscal 2020, the Army spent $ 214.5 million building and improving base infrastructure to improve soldiers’ lives.
Andrysiak has reduced the amount of time it takes to sell alcohol at its base in Alaska.
In a 2019 study at Fort Wayne Wright, “There is no single factor or set of factors that determine whether a soldier will die of suicide. Similarly, despite hundreds of millions of dollars and decades of research. , There is no single strategy to eliminate suicide. Suicide prevention and treatment. “
The Army has sought to mitigate the additional stress that could be caused by being stationed in Alaska by spending millions of dollars on improving quality of life and increasing access to counseling, Andrisiak said. Stated.
Soldiers stationed at Fort Wayne Wright said the Army seemed to focus more on refurbishing and constructing facilities than on securing sufficient counselors. He said it could take weeks for the soldiers to get the promise.
But for some, the stigma of seeking help with mental health issues still exists in the military, Andrysiak said. In addition, he said soldiers often have mental health problems when joining services.
According to Andrisiak, the Army began a series of investigations after the death of a soldier due to suicide. He said the main factor was the challenges in their upbringing that the parents contributed. The family was provided with details of the findings, he said, which could be a “bitter drug.”
Murkowski praised Andrisiak for improving the living conditions of his base in Alaska and seeking a solution to the “disastrous problem.”
“We need to continue our efforts to properly identify illnesses such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, and substance use disorders, break the stigma surrounding mental health, and ensure that the people in need receive the right treatment and support. There is, “she said.
New Arctic Strategy
Since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the Army has regularly deployed troops from Alaska to the war in the Middle East. Andrysiak acknowledged the break between life and training in the Arctic, and deployment and combat in the desert.
The new Arctic strategy will focus on developing an army to fight in the cold, just as the Pentagon and the Army are looking to Russia and China. And he said the army would stay in Alaska. The Army’s expanding Arctic recruiters focus on northern states, ski and snowboard enthusiasts. People who adapt to life in Alaska will be offered the opportunity to stay longer, he said.
But new buildings and more counselors can’t replace the relationship between the suffering soldier and his immediate boss, Andrisiak said.
“In reality, junior leaders in the lives of soldiers will save lives every day,” he said. “So I’m asking a 23-year-old sergeant to know your 18-year-old private and understand what’s happening in their lives, and to get the help they need. I will do my best. “
Military and veterans at stake or thinking of committing suicide, and those who know military or veterans, 24/7, 365 days a year, military crisis line / veterans for confidential support You can call the crisis line. Year. Call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1 or send a text message to 838255 or chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net / Chat.
Military suicides were prominent in Alaska, killing six people in five months.
Source link Military suicides were prominent in Alaska, killing six people in five months.