It’s no longer combat, injury, or accidents that take the majority of American lives in the Middle East. It’s something much sadder.
Newly released Pentagon statistics show that suicide is now the most prevalent cause of death for members of the Armed Services stationed in the Middle East.
USA Today is reporting that since the start of Operation Inherent Resolve in 2014, 31 troops have died in total. Eleven of those were suicides. Another eight died in combat, seven died in accidents, and four died from illnesses or injuries. One death is still under investigation.
Modern combat methods limit exposure to direct combat situations, which also limits fatalities. Much of the war against ISIS has been an air war, which places fewer troops in harm’s way.
However, that doesn’t explain a rising veteran suicide rate at home.
The finding comes at a time when the armed services are struggling with a rising, persistent suicide rate among veterans. In 2013, it came to light that some 22 veterans commit suicide every day. In July of this year, the Veteran’s Administration wrote that veteran suicide rates had shot up by 32% since 2001 alone; other reports place the increase at even higher rates.
The Veteran’s Administration has been largely unsuccessful in driving down suicide rates among active-duty and veteran servicemen and women, despite efforts. Though suicide rates among veterans are higher than the suicide rate in the general population, that has been climbing as well, to a 30-year high in 2015 alone.