Overheard on CNN.com: Suicides and the military
Army Spc. Chancellor Keesling and his father, Gregg Keesling, in April 2009.
May 30th, 2011
04:47 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Suicides and the military

Comments of the Day:

"It saddens my heart to know that this man, who served for his country, can't be honored because of his turmoils. War does horrible things to the mind. It breaks people. Our soldiers deserve more." - cicisbo

"Look, I know this is a touchy subject, but, someone who commits suicide is the perpetrator, not the victim. They took a life, even if it was their own. It's not brave or honorable to do so." - o0hBoy

Even in suicide, soldiers' families deserve condolences from president

Army Spc. Chancellor Keesling, 25, died in 2009 on his second deployment to Iraq, but his family did not receive a presidential letter of condolence because Keesling committed suicide. Such letters are withheld from the families of service members who kill themselves. Keesling's father wrote an opinion piece for CNN.com, advocating for a change to the policy. Most people who commented on the piece wrote in support of the father.

Crankee said, "My heart goes out to Spc. Keesling's family, and the families of others for whom combat took too heavy a toll. The condolence letter policy needs to be changed."

buckcameron said, "We are reluctant to acknowledge the severe mental stress of combat and to accept that suicides, either during or after combat, are part of the destruction of war. This young man served honorably and, it would seem, above and beyond his limits. My condolences to the family and also my praise for continuing to recognize their son's worth and sacrifice."

MewsJunkie said, "Let us ask Pres. Obama to send condolence letters to families of servicemen and women who commit suicide. They died as a direct result of military service even though their scars are often invisible."

Some readers shared their own stories.

ChipsDad said, "USMC Sgt. Boyd W. Wicks, Sr., Squad Leader, infantry, honorably discharged: came home and committed suicide as a result of PTSD. Once a Marine always a Marine, except when you are already discharged, then commit suicide. His buddies remember and honor him to this day. I wrote numerous letters to the USMC commandant at the time, which have yet to be answered. Senators Carper, Biden, McCain, and Spector are trying to get the UDS to recognize these post-service deaths as casualties of war, not for any compensation, but to honor these dead as true casualties."

lyghtsalt said, "I had one friend who killed himself right before we got underway. Being in the US Navy, you form a strong bond with people. So when he died, my boat was hurt. Another friend of mine couldn't quite get back into civilian life and killed himself. I'm not condoning what they did, but I do believe the military should take mental assessments more seriously. There's a lot of stress in the military and the slightest problem can throw some people off."

KC3482 said, "I think more needs to be brought to light to avoid suicide. We had a guy kill himself at the start of our second deployment. He had issues with his father that started before the Army. He was a good kid and soldier but what he did was by no means honorable. He had a support system and friends. I've been down on my luck before; I've been depressed. I wouldn't expect the President to offer condolences to my family if I killed myself. We did have a memorial for that soldier but he isn't listed on the memorial of our unit's KIAs."

Saudi prince calls for lower oil prices

Americans are not the only ones who wish oil prices would drop: So does Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, grandson of the founding king of modern Saudi Arabia. He expressed concern that the higher prices will drive Americans to develop alternative energy.

cuseguy said, "Would a crack dealer be pleased his customer is trying to go clean?" RedDragon11 said, "Finally an honest person in political power. Keep US hooked, plain and simple. I like his honesty, but am concerned about our need for oil and lack of alternatives."

monada, who identified as an "ex-Marine, business owner, and typical solid citizen," said, "That's your pusher talking. When I look at the supposed 'hippie tree huggers' and the faux news 'real' Americans I think it's bass ackward. It sure seems like the 'real' Americans are doing what they want for short-term personal gain and not what's right for the country; and the libtards are the ones trying to actually do something for the betterment of America."

emma65 said, "True colours: if the West ever needed reason to begin weaning themselves off oil, it was just handed it to us on a silver platter. The sooner the West divests itself of all interest in the Middle East, the better." Commentor785 said, "The time to cut our addiction is now. Oil companies and corrupt leaders have been profiting off destroying the environment and artificially raising prices for far too long." sjalal said, "I am ready to pay the premium if that would make our leaders push for alternate, clean renewable energy sources."

HHI said, "Until everyone has their senator on speed dial nothing will change. Just throw another shrimp on the barbie. Have a great weekend all and thank you to all those who have served and do serve in our military." jmcguiredfh said, "Pretty soon, when you fill out your 1040 it will ask 'Do you want to donate to the Presidential Campaign fund?' and beneath that: 'Do you want to donate to Big Oil who will donate to the Presidential Campaign Fund?' "

Mysterious markings discovered at Great Pyramid of Giza

Why are there tiny tunnels leading from the royal chambers in Egypt's Great Pyramid to a small secret room? A new robot has photographed hieroglyphs that may offer a solution. CNN.com readers had fun offering their own.

l2l said, "When they are translated, the markings will read 'Made in China.' " UncleBeasley offered, "Give my regards to the British Museum."

1alan1 said, "I had similar markings on my floor after I painted the ceiling. Hmm, I wonder. …"  zix said, "It's the PIN number for Mubarak's secret Pyramid account." ozky said, "Health and safety notice about wearing helmets, probably." Furunculus said, "Translates to, 'RESTROOM.' "

coldsteal2 suggested, " 'For a good time, call Nefertiti.' " HenkV said, " 'Keep raising the debt ceiling. It won't hurt us, our civilization will survive.' " klarg said, "Sorry, the glyphs say, 'Leave razors here overnight and they will magically sharpen.' "

johnnyever suggested, "Here I had many women." F0st3rs said, "Watch out for Moses. He's nothing but trouble."

Do you feel your views align with these commenters' thoughts? Post a comment below or sound off on video.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

soundoff (148 Responses)
  1. Skidder

    The problem is far greater than what the military/government does or does not do. Someone suffering from mental illness as a result of combat stress is every bit as disabled as an amputee. The problem is many people fear the consequences, or don't realize the damage combat can do. As a result many of them fail to report issues they are having managing their life, relationships, conflict, and other aspects. You can't force someone to accept treatment and participate. In the civilian world, there are very few instances where you can bring up someone's mental health legally. Laws need to be changed. Families need to encourage family members to seek help and if necessary, outside of military channels. There's nothing stopping them from getting help from a civilian therapist. They might not have insurance coverage and have to pay cash, but the cost is better than a funeral. The individual has to realize they have a problem, and then be in an environment they feel they are safe if they ask for help. Sure, some will still commit suicide, but name a medical procedure that is 100% safe and effective.

    May 31, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Awan A'Fuqya

    Give me a break! You send a child into the war zone to kill people & he cracks because he's become a baby killing murderer.

    Sayyyy...would someone like to point out to me that huge stockpile of WMDs that Sadaam had in Irak?

    You can't?!? Gee, why am I not surprised.

    Too bad DWI Bush didn't have a combat experience, maybe he'd do the right thing.

    May 31, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • WETFUSE13485

      First of all there are no children that are fighting in our military armed forces. Second we are not baby killers but Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and US Marines. We obviously know that there are no WMD's and this subject matter is not about Democrats or Republicans... This is about a young man that decided to take his life after returning home from combat and his father wanting the president to acknowledge his sons death of which is not possible and should not be. His son was honored with a combat patch and awards rendered by his command for service in a hostile combative situation. So keep to the subject matter at hand please..


      June 2, 2011 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
  3. DigitalOne

    I have a son-in-law who is thank God still alive after deployment to Iraq. His mom, my best friend was days from death following a courageous battle with cancer when Matt was brought home to his mother's deathbed. He returned to his Air Force base only to face a deep battle after losing his mom...Kellie was 38. In his struggle he did some dumb things and ultimately was discharged, 4 days short of being eligible for benefits given to soldiers serving in wars. A number of letters were written in his behalf from responsible adults begging his superiors to recognize his struggle and provide him some kind of support. Those letters were ignored and now he is being ignored by the same people he put his life on the line for. What's wrong with this picture?

    May 31, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • WETFUSE13485

      DO you civilians understand that if he did some dumb things in the military and was given a discharge for it and I am just going to go out on a limb an say that he got either a dishonorable discharge or was given a General Discharge Under Honorable Conditions. Either way he was discharged for his actions of which I am sure he knew what he was doing because we all do when we are enlisted or commissioned in the armed forces. The only picture that I see is that he made a mistake and now you want the military to support him after his release and that is not how it goes in the military. The only wrong thing that I see at this time is that you are complaining about the rules of which he knew would get him in trouble and that is sad to me because it is obviously clear that most civilians do not understand the Military Code of Justice and it is not like our Civilian Counter Parts.


      June 2, 2011 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  4. glenn robert

    WETFUSE13485: You understand the rules but have no empathy! PTSD makes people do strange things like kill themselves. 18 a day is the latest statistic of suicides among returning soldiers. They deserve better care and understanding. The numbers from Vietnam are in. Over 100,000 suicides with 58,000 combat deaths. We are just seeing the start of the problem from Iraq and Afganistan.

    June 5, 2011 at 2:51 am | Report abuse |
  5. RamyB

    Horrible that the military does nothing to prevent suicide in the military, I was hazed and harassed because of my family's Muslim background and to this day, still suffer major depressive disorder, anxiet, PTSD, and have an extremely hard time maintaining relationships due to my mental injury! I was never apologized to, instead while still serving, I tried to speak out to get help for my desire to not live, instead my sergeant major told me that if I did not kill myself, he would do it for me. I am no longer in the military but still suffer daily from major depressive disorder and I think if I would at least have some apology, then maybe my mind would be put at ease , also to know that others would not be subjected to what I was put through may also help me move on with my life, and also help me live without fear! Sad that the military is not helping soldiers or vets who suffer as I have and need help with recovery from mental illness before they commit suicide

    July 6, 2012 at 2:27 am | Report abuse |
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