Military Suicides a Portent of Societal Ill

Suicide is not merely a military problem, said Army Maj. Gen. Raymond Carpenter, acting director of the Army National Guard. “It’s society at large,” he said in remarks Monday at the Reserve Officers Association’s national security symposium in Washington, D.C. He added, “We’re providing the earliest statistics—we’re the canary in the mineshaft.” Suicides in the Army Guard doubled from 62 in 2009 to 113 in 2010, said Carpenter. Half of these soldiers had never deployed, and only about 20 percent had economic difficulties, he explained. “This generation we have coming has a problem,” but only the military is publicly documenting this crisis, he said. “We know somebody’s keeping track” of statistics at schools and universities, “but they’re not available,” asserted Carpenter. All but 10 of the Army Guards’ suicides last year were male. “They’re young, they’re white, and that’s the generation[al] issue we’re looking at,” he said. He adjured the audience to help “build a more resilient force and . . . become more resilient as a nation.”