For the second year (2010) in a row, more US soldiers killed themselves (468) than died in combat (462). “If you… know the one thing that causes people to commit suicide, please let us know,” General Peter Chiarelli told the Army Times, “because we don’t know.” Suicide is a tragic but predictable human reaction to being asked to kill – and watch your friends be killed – particularly when it’s for a war based on lies. Perhaps being required to bag the mangled flesh of fellow soldiers could be another reason that some are committing suicide.
Body Bagging… ever heard the term? Marines in the Corps’s Mortuary Affairs unit at Camp Al Taqaddum, Iraq, are assigned the job of collecting and cataloging the bodies of dead Marines. They sift through the remains and effects, from prom photos to suicide notes and love letters, and put them into a bag, then into a metal box and then into a refrigerator to await the flight home. One soldier, Jess Goodell, recounts a Marine brought into the unit still breathing. She frantically called to her superiors, who replied simply, “Wait.” She watched while he died. When she returned to the US, Goodell, like many others, was diagnosed with deep depression, substance abuse, PTSD and anxiety.
“Death and After in Iraq”, Chris Hedges, Truthdig, March 21, 2011. http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_body_baggers_of_iraq_20110321
“More US Soldiers Killed Themselves Than Died in Combat in 2010,” Cord Jefferson, Good, January 27, 2011. http://www.good.is/post/more-us-soldiers-killed-themselves-than-died-in-combat-in-2010
“Can You Face the True Consequences of War? The Horror of Bagging Soldiers’ Bodies in Iraq,” Chris Hedges, Alternet, March 21, 2011. http://www.alternet.org/world/150322/can_you_face_the_true_consequences_of_war_the_horrors_of_bagging_soldiers%27_bodies_in_iraq/?page=1
“Ten Reasons the Iraq War Was No Cakewalk,” Medea Benjamin and Charles Davis, Alternet, March 18, 2011. http://www.alternet.org/world/150297/ten_reasons_the_iraq_war_was_no_cakewalk
Student Researcher: Bay Ewald, San Francisco State University
Faculty Evaluator: Kenn Burrows, San Francisco State University