Guns and Military Connected Suicides

An Army Psychiatrist feels that gun control is an issue. A Fort Bragg Brigade Commander disagrees.

In June this past year,  ELSPETH CAMERON RITCHIE, one of the Army's top psychiatrists posted a story in Time Magazine about the reality of the issue at hand involving suicide and guns in the Army.

Guns account for 70% of the military suicides. 

According to Ritchie, in theater, these deaths are typically linked to government-issued weapons. Back at home, they are usually by the service member's personal weapon. Do you know anyone in the military who does not own at least one firearm?

After his involvement in hundreds of cases, including investigations at Fort Bragg he attributes both alcohol and easy access to weapons as a major theme.

"This is especially true in the impulsive suicides, those precipitated by an acute break-up or getting in trouble in work", said Ritchie.

Having been around Army communities for 14 years, other root causes that have surfaced are financial issues, morale when dealing with operational tempo (OPTEMPO) tied to deployments, and family matters.

The Right to Bear Arms

While Ritchie is not insinuating that guns should be taken away, he is merely talking about some ideas that might not make it so easy to make a life ending decision final.

"Our constitution provides every citizen the right to bear arms. Our Soldiers defend the constitution and deserve the rights afforded to those same citizens that we protect", said Col. Chad McRee, Director of Emergency Services and Cdr., 16th MP Bde. "While guns certainly can be a means for harm, guns do not harm people, people do." 

Excerpts from Public Law No: 111-383, Sec. 1062:

A- The SecDef shall not prohibit, issue any requirement relating to, or collect or record any information relating to the otherwise lawful acquisition, possession, ownership, carrying, or other use of a privately owned firearm, privately owned ammunition, or another privately owned weapon by a member of the Armed Forces or civilian employee of the Department of Defense on property that is not a military installation; or any other property that is owned or operated by the Department of Defense

B- The SecDef shall destroy any record containing information that was collected before the enactment of this Act

C- The SecDef’s authority shall not be limited to create or maintain records relating to an investigation, prosecution, or adjudication of an alleged violation of law

D- The SecDef shall conduct a comprehensive review of the privately owned weapons policy of the Department of Defense,  and submit a report of the findings and recommendations

E- CDRs CAN ask: “Do you own a gun that you intend to bring onto a military installation or military housing area?”

jimg9x21 September 21, 2011 at 03:02 PM
So the shrink thinks we should do away with guns in the military so we won’t have suicides? Sorry, this is just another hoplophobic cry for help. One need only look at the list of countries that have strict gun control and high suicide rates to debunk this nonsense. Japan has no privately owned guns but has a suicide rate several times that of the US. As always, the drum beat for more gun control doesn’t address the real issue of why someone feels suicide is the only way out for them. Of course that would require real work.
diane September 21, 2011 at 03:09 PM
If a person is being treated for depression, the guns should be taken away from that person . It is to easy of an out and sometimes in the state they are in, they don't realize that it is permament solution to a temporary problem !!
Kelly Twedell September 22, 2011 at 11:24 AM
Jimg & Diane, I too agree. What needs to be looked at is the cause. What is behind the feelings of despair weighing on the individual. The military's ASSIST is key to getting know your battle buddy and assess where they are at. Be a friend to someone, it's a small gesture, you never know how you might positively affect a person.


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