Today's Chicago Tribune reports on the rising suicide rate among soldiers in Iraq. The survey (the first of its kind in a combat situation) shows an increase in suicide from 11.9 per 100,000 soldiers to 17.3 per 100,000 soldiers.
Any suicide is a tragedy, and may be a growing problem in Iraq (or may not; this may be a one time blip in the statistics).
As the Tribune warns:
"While experts and GI advocates were pleased that the Army was acknowledging a problem, they remained cautious on whether the military would heed the recommendations.
"It's no longer a disputed issue," said Dr. Paul Ragan, a Vanderbilt University professor who was a Navy psychiatrist for 11 years. "These are sentinel events and if they are not addressed now, it will become catastrophic if it's not addressed with the proper science and vigor."
But as bad as it is, is it a catastrophe? Will this story, as framed by the Tribune, cause concerned citizens to demand that we pull our troops home?
A little more information for comparison will be useful to an informed citizen. This, via the New York Times, where the first two sentences are identical to the Tribune's story. The Tribune omitted the last sentence (Ed.: emphasis mine):
"That number put the suicide rate at 17.3 per 100,000 soldiers, compared with 12.8 for the Army overall last year, and an average rate of 11.9 for the Army between 1995 and 2002, Army officials said. The civilian rate for 18- to 34-year-olds, the age range of most soldiers, is 21.5 per 100,000."
Though the suicide rate, tragically, did increase in Iraq last summer, the rate is still much lower than the suicide rate among a soldier's civilian peers back home.
Information such as this gives an informed citizen the tools he/she needs to make a reasoned decision about this situation and our commitment in Iraq.
For the Chicago Tribune to deprive its readers of this information and context, is disingenous and a disservice to each of us.