This story drew an exceptional amount of mail from readers, with responses ranging from sympathy for the troops to anger at President Bush to criticism about the basis of the story and whether it is newsworthy.

Re: Suicide rate among soldiers up in Iraq

Name: Kim
Hometown: Kenner, LA

Do you honestly think these soldiers will stop killing themselves in Iraq?  These soldiers that are killing themselves are young, under 21, are first time dads and husbands and they gave up their lives already to hold a rifle for 16 hours a day in a big sandbox. Their families go on while they miss first steps, first words, lost time between their spouses and a normal "teen" life. The only thing they want to do is go home and stop fighting. 

They joined the military for money for school, money for lifestyles, family and this is what they get.  The military is known to be "family oriented" as they put it.  Well, this is a poor way of showing it. The military is a homewrecker, a daycare, and pays minimum wage and still expect their people to give 110%! What do you expect these soldiers to do?  This is the only way to come back home.

As a military member myself all the counseling I got was some shrink telling me about her ex-husband and how men will hurt you and wanted to put me on anti-depressants.  Another shrink told me to put a rubberband around my wrist and snap it as hard as I could everytime I got the urge to kill myself. The military can't even give us decent psychiatric care! Maybe these cries from soldiers will wake up "Uncle Sam" and maybe some day our military will be "family oriented" as it advertises.

Name: Laura
Hometown: San Luis Obispo

No kidding.  Keeping soldiers on extended orders is stressful, and the lack of communication between the military and families adds to the burden.  When they live in Iraq for a year or more, they are already living in hell.  Their "quick fix" is permanent.

Name: Arlan Land
Hometown: Albuquerque

In the article-Suicide rate among soldiers up in Iraq, it mentioned that the DOD may ask for help from the VA hospitals. Get real! The VA doesn't have enough money to take care of the veterans already in their system. It will be the same for them as it is for us, money talks and veteran walks!

Name: Greg DeRosier
Hometown: Rhinelander, Wisconsin
The Pentagon needs to get those troops needing medical treatment to medical professionals immediately.  Having them wait around at military bases, etc. is nothing less than maltreatment and malpractice of our heros.  Any suicidal warning signs by our military personnel needs immediate action.  The Defense Department must act now. 
Signed by a proud 10 year vet who served his country.

Name: George
Hometown: Portland, Oregon
This news about GI suicide rate should be front page headlines in every major newspaper; but it will be buried because we as a people do not want to face up to the mess this president has gotten us into.

Name: AJ
Hometown: Sandusky
Suicide rate among soldiers up in Iraq is the name of the column. Why would you put something like this on one of the front pages of NBC news?  It makes no sense and is an outrage. The last thing someone wants to hear about is how the suicide rates have risen. This outrage decreases the esteem of our soldiers and is ridiculous. Try writing something a little more positive next time.

Name: Darrin Johnson
Hometown: Las Vegas  NV
I have spent 10 years in the military.  I have been lucky enough to only have known two people who have commited suicide. If a soldier is suspected of having mental problems in this or any other war he should be evaluated.  If it is deturmined that that person is not well he should be sent home or placed in a less hazzardous/stressful environment where he can productivly serve his country.  This person is not doing himself or his country any good by continuing to serve in a disabled capacity.  Also I believe medication while serving in a dangerous location is not an option.  Supplies can be hard to come by, let alone a troop's meds should he run out.

Name: Karla
Hometown: Eaton Rapids

In regards to the soldiers commiting suicide in Iraq headline. You would think the military would have learned after the thousands and thousands of Vietman Veterans we are treating for PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).  Many of these soldiers still have not been treated or diagnosed and we are now almost 30 years after the fact. This is a huge problem, and one that not many people are aware of unless you personaly know someone who has been diagnosed.

These were all normal functioning individuals when they left for combat and some were affected right after they returned.  Others were diagnosed years later, and still others only recently. Surely after the thousands of soldiers and their families that have been affected, they would have had this covered well in advance for our soldiers fighting over there now.

Name: L. Henry
Hometown: MD

The military fails to mention that it looks down upon soldiers that seek mental counseling and that there is a stigma of weakness attached to mental issues among soldiers. Perhaps they should make that clear, then the reasons for such low amounts of soldiers seeking help would become apparent. War is a horrible thing to live through and to be made to feel like a coward because you are having trouble dealing does not help the soldiers cope. Hence, the suicide rate and other related violence.

Name: Giovanni C. Pacheco
This is highly mis-leading and irresponsible news reporting.  It sensationalizes a relatively minor shift in an absolute numbers.  Two to three additional suicides do not indicate a trend worthy of headlines. Please note that the suicide rate in the U.S. for the age group 20-24, approximate age of most soldiers, is 12 per 100,000. (source: is the kind of reporting that led to negative myths that swirled around for years about the 'Nam veteran.The overall suicide rate nationwide during 2001 was 10.7 per 100,000, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.By contrast, two U.S. military personnel killed themselves during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, although that conflict only lasted about a month. The Army recorded 102 suicides during 1991 for a rate of 14.4 per 100,000. The Army's highest suicide rate in recent years came in 1993, when the rate was 15.7 per 100,000.So what I can gather here is that the suicide rates for the Army:In 1991 (first Gulf War), it was 14.4 (army-wide)
In 1993 (Haiti and Somalia), it was 15.7 (army-wide)
In 2002 (Afghanistan), it was 10.9 (army-wide)
In 2003 (Iraq), the rate is 13.5 (of those soldiers in Iraq only)So wait a minute. If the rate was higher-- army wide-- for the years of the first Gulf War and Haiti/Somalia (1991 and 1993) than it is now, how is that an increase? Especially when those numbers for 1991 and 1993 are army-wide, whereas the rate for soldiers in Iraq (only) for 2003 is less?The ONLY way that any logical person, based on the stats given, would perceive suicide rates have INCREASED, is by comparing 2003 Iraq-only figures to the 2002, army-wide stats (which is comparing apples to oranges).Does this make sense? I hope this was either a mistake in not explaining the figures entirely, or some other oversight by the writer. I'd hate to see such a captivating headline, complete with political ramifications, be based on "fuzzy math" for the political purpose/agenda of the writer.


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