By: Greg Mitchell
One of the least covered aspects of the fallout from the Iraq war is the rising toll of suicides, both near the battlefield and back home.
Latest official figures released by the Pentagon reveal at least 116 self-inflicted fatalities in Iraq. But this does not include several dozen still under investigation, nor any of the many cases back in the U.S.
The Star Tribune of Minneapolis reported the latest example today. It revealed that an Iraq war veteran reported missing in northern Minnesota — and suffering from post-traumatic stress — had been found dead.
A sheriff’s deputy said that he believed the body of Noah Charles Pierce, 23, was found in the Gilbert, Minn., area but had few details.
The Mesabi Daily News described the dead man as living in nearby Mountain Iron and quoted a local law enforcement officer confirming that he had shot himself.
“Pierce, who served in Iraq and had been found to have post-traumatic stress disorder, was discovered around 9:30 p.m. Thursday,” the Star Tribune reported. “Pierce, from Mountain Iron, Minn., went missing Wednesday afternoon after he sent several friends text messages that he was suicidal, the Sheriff’s Office said.
“He was last seen at the house where he lives and was believed to have left in a pickup truck. He left home with a revolver and a rifle, the Sheriff’s Office said.”
This past January, Lisa Chedekel and Matthew Kauffman noted in the Hartford Courant that veterans advocates had found the increase of suicides in 2006 ?troubling.? Steve Robinson, director of government relations for Veterans for America, told them he was particularly disturbed by suicides in the war zone because combat troops are supposed to be screened for mental health issues before they join the military, and throughout their careers.
“These people aren’t the kind of people that you would think would take this step,” he said.
NOTE: E&P editor Greg Mitchell has covered numerous Iraq-related suicides in the past year, including cases involving Alyssa Peterson (who objected to interrogation techniques), Col. Ted Westhusing (who had complained about contractor and soldier abuses), and Linda Michel (who died in upstate New York after medication was denied), among others.