THE BLOG

1,000 US Soldier Suicides

THE SORROWS OF WAR
Over 1,000 American Troop Suicides
By Tom Hayden
 
American soldier suicides during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will reach the 1,000 number this year, if that number has not been exceeded already.

More American soldiers are dying from suicide than dying in either of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Last year's American body count of 334 exceeded the toll of 316 killed in Afghanistan and 149 in Iraq. The suicide numbers have been undercounted and underreported.

The figures are difficult to obtain and have rarely been tabulated cumulatively, for reasons not apparent. But these are the numbers as extracted from US Army data, a 2009 NYT article, and recent Congressional Quarterly figures.
 
2003:  80 est.
2004:  55 est.
2005:  95 est.
2006:  106
2007:  115
2008:  128
2009:  334 [Army 211, Navy 47, Marine Corps 42, Air Force, 34]
Total: 923
 
One reason for the apparent tripling of suicides in 2009 might lie in a previous undercount. The 2003-2008 figures are from the New York Times based on Army figures, including Reserves and National Guard. The 2009 total of 334 is from the Congressional Quarterly website, congress.org , cited by late Rep. John Murtha. Other fatalities which may be suicides are listed in ambiguous categories such as "undetermined cause" or "still being investigated."
 
According to the Houston Chronicle May 17, 2009, the true numbers are staggering. Overall, the Chronicle reported that 988 soldiers in the Army, Army Reserve, Army National Guard, and at least 997 in the Navy, Navy Reserve, Air Force, Air Force Reserve, Marines and Coast Guard - 1,985 total  -- committed suicide from 2001 to early 2009. At least 225 more suicides have occurred since the Chronicle article was published.