The Senate Armed Services Committee hearings Wednesday on the rising suicide rate among U.S. ground troops in Iraq and Afghanistan revealed some frightening new data, but did little to investigate the underlying causes of what is emerging as one of the darkest, most disturbing legacies of the wars.
Last year the Army had its highest suicide rate on record — 140 soldiers. But new data from the Army on Wednesday showed the number jumping even higher. Forty-eight soldiers have already killed themselves so far this year. If that rate keeps up, nearly 225 Army soldiers will be dead by their own hand by the end of 2009. (Source)
The line between public and private in the Internet age became blurrier last week following the case of Abraham Biggs, the 19-year-old Floridian who committed suicide by overdosing on prescription medication as a populated chat room watched him via his live webcam. The voyeuristic nature of Biggs’s death is disturbing, but it draws attention to the equally disturbing rate of suicide among young black men. According to the American Association of Suicidology, the rate of suicide among black men ages 15-24 increased 83 percent in the ’80s to early ’90s. While the rate has fallen since, suicide is still the third leading cause of death among young black men, who are seven times as likely to commit suicide as black women. (Source)
The family history of poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath took another tragic turn Monday when it was revealed that their son had committed suicide after battling depression.
Nicholas Hughes, whose mother gassed herself in 1963 at her London home while her two children slept in the next room, hanged himself at his home in Alaska, his sister Frieda told The Times newspaper.
Hughes, 47, was unmarried with no children of his own and had until recently been a marine biologist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. (Source)
On Monday, in an interview with a radio station in his home state of Iowa, [Senator Charles] Grassley fired a gibe at AIG executives, saying they might “follow the Japanese example and come before the American people and take that deep bow and say, I’m sorry, and then either do one of two things: resign or go commit suicide.” (Source)
In an interview with MSNBC’s David Shuster, Sen. Grassley didn’t apologize for his comments…. Instead, he dismissed the question, saying people should know “rhetoric” when they hear it.”
“I hope you recognize rhetoric,” Grassley said, “and I shouldn’t even have to answer that question….” (Source)
I hope you recognize, Senator, that there is nothing “rhetorical” about suicide. No matter how hard times become, no matter how angry we may be at the greed of others, we do not need to call for public displays of suicide. Not even “rhetorically.”