Letters to the Editor

Military: Why suicide problem won't go away

Military: Why suicide problem won't go away

Re: “Stopping troop suicides: We can do better,” (TNT off the wire editorial, 8/11).

We can do better, but our military has chosen not to. Since 2008, Department of Defense Suicide Event Report data show that easy access to a personal gun is the No. 1 risk factor for military suicide.

There is no single neat explanation for suicide, though we want one. PTSD and depression are not predictive of suicide. Quick anger and impulsivity are predictive but are not mental health diagnoses.

News flash: The majority of military members who commit suicide do not have a mental health diagnosis. The majority get stressed, angry and have a gun handy.

Over 100 years of suicide prevention efforts have made no dent. The military has psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, crisis lines with 24-hour access, anonymous off-base counseling resources, extensive annual training on suicide prevention -- and there is no reduction in suicides.

The military does no significant primary prevention training on gun access and suicide. That is the problem!

We can do better. The DoD has chosen not to. Why? Answer: the gun lobby.

Christopher Staeheli, Tacoma

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