By Finian Cunningham
January 12, 2010
Gulf Daily News

Here is a shocking statistic that you won’t hear in most western news media: over the past nine years, more US military personnel have taken their own lives than have died in action in either the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. These are official figures from the US Department of Defence, yet somehow they have not been deemed newsworthy to report. Last year alone, more than 330 serving members of the US armed forces committed suicide – more than the 320 killed in Afghanistan and the 150 who fell in Iraq (see wsws.org).

Since 2001, when Washington launched its so-called war on terror, there has been a dramatic year-on-year increase in US military suicides, particularly in the army, which has borne the brunt of fighting abroad. Last year saw the highest total number since such records began in 1980. Prior to 2001, the suicide rate in the US military was lower than that for the general US population; now, it is nearly double the national average.

A growing number of these victims have been deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan. What these figures should tell us is that there is something fundamentally deranged about Washington’s “war on terror” – which is probably why western news media prefer to ignore the issue. How damning is it about such military campaigns that the number of US soldiers who take their own lives outnumber those killed by enemy combatants.

What is even more disturbing is that the official figures only count victims of suicide among serving personnel. Not included are the many more veterans – officially classed a civilians – who take their own lives.

Most likely, these deaths are reported in some small-town newspaper in “a brief” news item with no context or background as to what drove these individuals to take their own lives. It is estimated that the suicide rate among veterans demobbed from fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq is as high as four times the national average. The US Department of Veteran Affairs calculates that over 6,000 former service personnel commit suicide every year.

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