In the general population men are far more likely to commit suicide than women. Among military veterans, women are almost as likely to commit suicide as men.
Does military service make women more suicidal or does it make them behave more like men?
The Los Angeles Times reports the alarming statistic:
New government research shows that female military veterans commit suicide at nearly six times the rate of other women, a startling finding that experts say poses disturbing questions about the backgrounds and experiences of women who serve in the armed forces.
Their suicide rate is so high that it approaches that of male veterans, a finding that surprised researchers because men generally are far more likely than women to commit suicide.
"It's staggering," said Dr. Matthew Miller, an epidemiologist and suicide expert at Northeastern University who was not involved in the research. "We have to come to grips with why the rates are so obscenely high."
Why are women veterans committing suicide at such high rates?
No one knows.
The LA Times speculates:
It is not clear what is driving the rates. VA researchers and experts who reviewed the data for The Times said there were myriad possibilities, including whether the military had disproportionately drawn women at higher suicide risk and whether sexual assault and other traumatic experiences while serving played a role.
Psychosocially, women soldiers are not accepted as equals. They are not accepted as full members of the group and do not enjoy the same camaraderie:
Though the U.S. military has long provided camaraderie and a sense of purpose to men, it has been a harsher place for women. "They lack a sense of belonging," said Leisa Meyer, a historian at the College of William and Mary in Virginia and an expert on women in the military.
What does it all mean?
It might mean that women soldiers have not undergone the same basic training as men. It might mean that the women who join the military believe that gender is just a social construct. It might suggest that women soldiers do not earn their stripes by performing as well as men. It might mean that men consider the presence of women a hindrance, imposed by politically correct politicians.
It looks as though yet another grand social experiment that is failing. It suggests that the notion of a gender neutral military, the notion that gender is merely a social construct is absurd.
One understands that the proponents of political correctness will use this news to launch yet another assault on men in the military. They will insist that we can only solve the problem by putting women into more combat roles. Heck, the New York Times editorial board will probably tell us again that we need to open the military to the transgendered.
The real question is: how many women’s lives are we willing to sacrifice to a bad idea?