Updated: Jun 19
High Suicide Rates among United States Service Members and Veterans of the Post 9/11 Wars Summary: Suicide rates among the United States public have been increasing for the past twenty years, but among active military personnel and veterans of the post-9/11 wars, the suicide rate is even higher, outpacing average Americans. The “post-9/11 wars” refers to ongoing U.S.-led military operations around the world that grew out of President George W. Bush's "Global War on Terror" and the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. This paper estimates 30,177 active duty personnel and veterans of the post 9/11 wars have died by suicide, significantly more than the 7,057 service members killed in post-9/11 war operations. These high suicide rates are caused by multiple factors, some inherent to fighting in a war and others unique to America’s “war on terror” framework. Partially, they are due to risks common to fighting any war: high exposure to trauma, stress, military culture and training, continued access to guns, and the difficulty of reintegrating into civilian life. In the post-9/11 era, the rise of improvised explosive devices (IED), the attendant rise in traumatic brain injuries (TBI), the war’s protracted length, advances in medical treatment that keep service members in the military longer, and the American public’s disinterest in the post-9/11 wars, have greatly contributed to increased suicide rates. High suicide rates mark the failure of the U.S. government and U.S. society to manage the mental health costs of our current conflicts.
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