Editorial: Suicide rate in military alarming

Jan. 15, 2013 @ 04:24 PM

At the end of next month, the 30th anniversary of what was then the most watched episode of a television program will pass by.

We’re reminded of M*A*S*H with the news earlier this week on suicides in the military. In both the movie and the TV series, the music of Johnny Mandel (music) and Mike Altman (lyrics) is forever etched with the generation.

What we may or may not remember is the hit movie of 1970 was based on the novel from 1968 written by Richard Hooker. The television show had comedy, but it also played to our morals when our country was breathlessly changing.

It is about the Korean War in the 1950s, but we were captivated by the allegory as the Vietnam War, and Cold War, were ongoing when it hit the TV airwaves.

That suicide is painless

It brings on many changes

and I can take or leave it if I please.

Etched with our generations enduring the recent war on terror is the sobering reality that suicide is a part of war. In the movie, Pvt. Seidman sings it during the dentist’s failed attempt to end his life. But we know it is more than that.

The military said suicides numbered 349 last year, more deaths than by military combat. The forecast for this year is worse.

Coming home is no easy maneuver. We can’t be there for every high risk individual and moments they encounter, but more has to be done.

The game of life is hard to play

I’m gonna lose it anyway

The losing card I’ll someday lay

so this is all I have to say.

The factors are numerous, from environments left behind to new ones encountered. Hard to believe, but it can actually be more scary here than in combat. Uncertainties of life can work that way.

It is incumbent on our military to know who is sent into combat, for those surrounding them to understand who they are upon returning, and for family members and friends to be a bridge at all times.