The "soldier suicide" epidemic in Iraq, which I have chronicled here for months, continues. Another young American soldier, this one age 19, has apparently killed himself in Iraq, and at least two other reports of "noncombat" deaths in the past week or so may fall in the same category.
As usual, the latest case emerged from a local newspaper, while the Pentagon continues an investigation that usually leads to no public announcement. I had followed this incident from the beginning, so the report of a likely suicide does not surprise me.
He was Pvt. Eugene D.M. Kanakaole, who hailed from Hawaii, and was assigned to the 87th Engineer Company. According to the report this weekend in the Anderson Daily Herald in Indiana (where his mother once lived), he was found in Balad, Iraq, on June 11 with a single bullet wound in his head.
On his MySpace page, Kanakaole had dubbed himself "hawaiiansoljah" and adopted this quote, "id rather die on my feet then live life on my knees."
Kanakaole, according to the Honolulu Advertiser, last signed on to his MySpace page on May 31, listing his mood as "mischievous."
He had a hard life, bouncing from foster home to foster home throughout his childhood, but was well liked in high school and became a fine athlete, before joining the military last year.
His family questionsthe idea of suicide. As I reported here two days ago another family, this one in Texas, was told last year that their daughter was killed by friendly fire, and it turned out to be murder. But incidents of murder and friendly fire have been relatively rare in Iraq, while the suicides toll is now in the hundreds.
Greg Mitchell's new book includes several chapters on soldier/vet suicides. It is So Wrong for So Long: How the Press, the Pundits -- and the President -- Failed on Iraq. He is editor of Editor & Publisher.