Memorial Day is the American holiday to remember those who died in service to our country. In recent years, it has been stretched to remember those who serve. This incorporates more people but steps away from the intent. One area of service life that has seen an unfortunate emergence is the rise of military suicides.
Military suicides have been on the rise since the Bush era. It does rise as broader society’s suicide rate increases, but what was formerly blamed on the stress of the Iraq/Afghan wars now has to search for a new reason. The Afghan surge was a decade ago. America, the majority of forces, left Iraq a decade ago. Our troop presence in Afghanistan is small, yet we keep setting records for active duty suicides.
When people talk about the readiness or competency of our military, they can point to the Navy’s LCS or the F-35 as dysfunction. Suicides shouldn’t be rising as the military skinnies down and withdraws from its major conflicts. This is a symptom of its dysfunction. Military suicides were a hushed up issue during Obama’s presidency, and suicide itself is an issue we don’t want to touch. We do the mental health awareness drives and slap up support posts, but we do not want to grapple with why.
Suicide is an individual act when outside the rare cult mass suicide. We treat each as an individual case with individual causes because if there is a pattern it will refute our narrative of progress. Our overlords built a progressive paradise and this sticks a thumb in its eye. The individual is fully liberated, but to do what? Liberation for market forces. Liberation from traditional family roles and duties. Liberated to be alone. We have an epidemic of loneliness, which the lockdowns only made worse.
That is something lockdowns revealed for a split in society. People shut down and stayed put or they risked the low probability of death and still sought out their loved ones. It is not purely genetic as families saw different approaches, but the binding thread was that people who took that risk still valued personal connections. This will all be more important going forward.
I have no clue what’s at play in the military for this continuous rise in suicides. Might just be part of the broader societal trend, but if an institution was built to generate camaraderie, feelings of belonging and social cohesion, it is harder to beat than a military force.
On to the links…