When researchers asked 72 soldiers at Fort Carson, Colo., why they tried to kill themselves, out of the 33 reasons they had to choose from, all of the soldiers included one in particular — a desire to end intense emotional distress.
“This really is the first study that provides scientific data saying that the top reason … these guys are trying to kill themselves is because they have this intense psychological suffering and pain,” said Craig Bryan, co-author of the study by the National Center for Veterans Studies at the University of Utah that will be published in the coming months.
The Associated Press reported last month that the suicide rate in the military is at its highest level in more than a decade. According to Pentagon data, an average of one military suicide occurred per day in the first six months of 2012 and military deaths from suicide outweighed combat deaths by a two-to-one ratio, a dramatic uptick since 2010 and 2011 when military suicides decreased from previous years.
“The core of the issue is that it’s not that people who attempt suicide … want to harm themselves as much as they want the pain they’re currently in to stop, and they don’t see any other way out,” said Army Col. Carl Castro, who is spearheading the military’s effort to study suicide prevention and treatment.
USA Today added that the new study “also found that the soldiers often listed many reasons — an average of 10 each — for suicide,” including “the urge to end chronic sadness, a means of escaping people or a way to express desperation.”