Hidden Crisis: Suicide Among Troops' Grieving Families

New federal study aims to learn more

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 21, 2012 4:53 AM CST

(Newser) – While military suicides are closely tracked, there's no hard data on suicides by troops' grieving relatives. But conversations with military families point to an "outbreak" of suicides and attempts during the past 11 years, the Wall Street Journal reports. "We've all had the idea of suicide at one time or another," says a mother whose son was killed in Iraq; she knows several military parents who have ended their own lives, she says. Now, federal researchers are gathering 3,000 participants for a study on the matter.

It could shed light on how military deaths "differ from similarly sudden or violent civilian deaths in their impact on bereaved family members," says a psychiatrist. Meanwhile, the Journal recounts the stories of several military family members—a mother, a sister, a father, a brother, and a stepmother—who committed or attempted suicide following the deaths of loved ones. "It was like part of your heart was torn out of you," says the father of a private killed in Iraq. After surviving a suicide attempt, he realized that "you have to make a choice: Either I'm going to live for the living or I'm going to stay living for the dead." Click through for the full piece.

Federal researchers are beginning to study military family suicides.
Federal researchers are beginning to study military family suicides.   (Shutterstock)
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