An AP article with a misleading title, “A victory as Army mounts anti-suicide campaign,” reveals what is all too frequently the triggering factor in military suicides: divorce. Family law in the US makes it exceedingly easy for women to take advantage of military spouses, offering them a raft of benefits for divorcing their soldier, sailor and airman husbands. Add that to the fact that military wives are notorious for infidelity, and there are bound to be a lot of casualties.
From the article:
Godding, now stationed at Fort Carson, Colo., and Sanders, at Fort Polk, La., told their story in telephone interviews after Godding received the Meritorious Service Medal for saving Sanders’ life.
The two soldiers were in Iraq together with a 10th Mountain Division artillery battery in 2008 when Sanders’ wife said she wanted a divorce, Sanders said.
“It was mid-deployment. Things were getting pretty hectic at the time, the temperature was rising,” Sanders said. “I would mainly call her to kind of vent. She was the only person I had to talk to. She just said goodbye.”
The “victory” referred to in the article is one instance of an aware and caring friend preventing a suicide by disabling his fellow-soldier’s weapon. We have no way of knowing how many suicides have been prevented by comrades in arms, but there have doubtless been many besides this one. In Army Spc. Joseph Sanders’ case, his friend had listened to him make a plea for help by confessing his thoughts of ending his life. Spc. Albert Godding, who took him seriously and took steps to prevent it, obviously did the right thing. Whenever anyone – especially a man – talks about ending his life it is not a joke.
Sadly, too many men are left to deal with very dark thoughts all alone in this day of the casual destruction of men’s lives by politicians, judges and wives. Many men have few people to talk to, and many have been conditioned to bottle up their emotions. Additionally, as a culture, we have been trained to feel little sympathy for men, which probably explains the barbaric treatment they often receive at the hands of their wives and the courts.
That suicide is a response to stress and ill-treatment should be obvious, but the fact that men are some four times as likely to kill themselves as women is seldom taken as evidence that men have it harder in our society. When certain policies, such as abusive, anti-male family law, clearly lead to suicide, one would think that decent people would make some effort to change them. However, for all the talk about reducing the suicide rate in the armed forces, I have never seen any evidence at all that any officials intend to make any changes whatsoever to the family law policies that have created this problem.