Obama is sending presidential condolence letters to the families of military suicides. On its surface, this sounds harmless and kind. Not so fast.
A suicide is an awful thing, and while we must sympathize with those whose demons drive them to this ultimate self-sanction, we should not forget those left behind. A soldier in combat who kills himself leaves his unit less able to fight. Unless, of course, he was a total screw-up, thereby perhaps leaving his unit better off.
But let’s go with the charitable assumption, that the soldier who kills himself as a result of his own private demons (and not because of cowardice) was an able member of his unit. In what universe does this suicide help his comrades? It does not; it hurts his comrades.
In a word, suicide is dishonorable. And giving suicide a presidential imprimatur cheapens the lives of those who are killed in action, and those lives lost in the line of duty but outside of combat theaters, such as in training accidents.
Today’s WaPo has an “isn’t this wonderful and kind of our Benefactor-in-Chief” article, and it continues the soldier as victim meme. The Post, as many in the mainstream (i.e. liberal) media do, consider the men and women who serve in our armed forces primarily as victims (e.g. the claim that “many of these suicides are related to PTSD or other combat-related stresses”).
I don’t know the numbers, and whether it’s “many” or “few,” suicide is a tragedy for the individual who takes his own life, and for his family. But never forget those comrades left behind, whose lives in a combat zone are put at (higher) risk.
Let’s reserve presidential condolences to those who fall in combat.