Thursday, November 15, 2007


Leave it to The Times in London to publish this sobering story:

America suffers an epidemic of suicides among tramatised army veterans

From the article:
More American military veterans have been committing suicide than US soldiers have been dying in Iraq, it was claimed yesterday.

At least 6,256 US veterans took their lives in 2005, at an average of 17 a day, according to figures broadcast last night. Former servicemen are more than twice as likely than the rest of the population to commit suicide.
A separate study published last week shows that US military veterans make up one in four homeless people in America, even though they represent just 11 per cent of the general adult population, and younger soldiers are already trickling into shelters and soup kitchens after completing tours in Iraq and Afghanistan

I don't know what to say. These statistics are just heartbreaking. What part of "Support Our Troops" doesn't include making sure they have proper mental health treatment? Oh, that's right - there are still a whole slew of folks out there who don't think that the brain can be sick and that people need to suck it up and be an adult. "Quit yer whining, whipersnapper. My pappy tore limbs off 150 Japs with his bare hands in double u double u two and he came out just fine." A raging alcoholic who mentally and physically abused his family, who once beat a man into the hospital with a pair of boots because the man woke him up from a sound sleep on a train, but just fine.

It's like this, people: your heart can get diseased, your skin can get a rash, your muscles can rip, your joints can develop arthritis, your brain chemicals can get out of whack, especially if the person is exposed to all manner of psychological stress and visual/physical horrors.

It's a sad fact that traumatic images and events get stuck in our memories more easily than we'd like (if you've ever seen tubgirl or goatse then you know what I'm talking about). Recent research is working toward treatments that, while they won't erase the memories themselves, may "dampen their emotional charge." I sure hope it proves effective.

There's a reason I don't usually post on topics such as this: I feel hopeless in the face of our current situation and I don't like to feel hopeless. So I try to focus on things I like and enjoy. I vote when the time comes, and I keep myself as informed as I can stand to be (thank you, Jon Stewart), but there's only so much I can take before I have to visit Can I Has Cheezburger for, as Boing Boing puts it, a unicorn chaser.

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