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Suicide in Russ. troops

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Recently, there have been many reports on suicide rates amongst United States troops. A recent report from the Russian government says that 300 of its servicemen have committed suicide in 2007.

While the United States Department of Veterans Affairs has to deal with the rising rates of suicides amongst veterans let alone those that have recently served in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Russian Army too is dealing with its fair share.

On Thursday, May 29, the United States Army released a report that there have been 115 reported suicides in 2007 amongst the active Army, National Guard, and Army Reserve. In 2006, the number of reported suicides was at least 102.

However, the number of reported suicides in the Russian Army goes beyond 300. But, the situation and circumstances are far different.

Recent reports in regards to suicides amongst US troops stem from repeated and extended tours of duty. While there have been many initiatives launched to help servicemen that have returned, the number of suicides continue to increase.

The case of the Russian Army is completely different. According to human rights groups and few former Russian Army commanders, the number of suicides is blamed by violence and negligence by officers and the top brass. The older soldiers put the newly drafted conscripts through hazing. The hazing has been blamed for the number of suicides.

The hazing has raised major concerns that thousands of young men try to get out of the obligatory draft. There have been many that even resorted to bribes in order to be deemed as unfit to serve in the military. In short, they do not want to get drafted out of fear of getting hazed.

Currently, the Russian government is trying to launch initiatives to stop the bullying and hazing. While Russia too has its fair share of soldier suicides, it is attributed by a completely different circumstance.

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press.

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