I am a geek. Not the gotta-have-an-iPhone-5-NOW kind of geek but a number-crunching geek. I do computer-assisted investigative reporting. I acquire, compile and analyze data. I search for trends, anomalies and causal relationships.
I have looked for dead people on voter registration rolls and used Census data to find out where single-guys with six-figure incomes live (we didn’t publish that but it’s nice to know anyway.)
You name, I’ve probably analyzed it or thought about analyzing it.
Right now I’m wondering how I can get my hands on data on suicides in the military. We’ve been reading about increasing suicide rates among soldiers and Marines for the last few years. Rates are rising. The Army is so concerned that today the Army has issued a service-wide “stand-down,” ordering soldiers to put aside their usual duties and devote the day to suicide prevention training. This is great news.
However, what I really want to know is why so many soldiers are killing themselves. We keep hearing about multiple tours of duty, the horrors of war, financial and family hardships and substance abuse. Anecdotal evidence. How about we crunch some numbers and see if we can identify trends? Maybe if we analyze these data we can identify those soldiers who are most at risk. Of course, this assumes that the Army is actually collecting these data.
The wheels and queries are spinning in my hypomanic brain. If I had these data today I would spend the day in blissful solitude, searching for answer to these kinds of questions:
Age at enlistment. Age at suicide. Was suicide committed while on active duty? While deployed in combat zone? After discharge? Type of discharge? Length of time between discharge and suicide? Gender. Race. Education. Rank. Branch of service. Years in service. Number of tours. Length of tour. How much time between tours? Marital status. Years married. If divorced, before, after or during active duty? Number of children. Age of children. Did soldier miss birth/pregnancy? Where deployed for each tour? Combat? How many combat tours? Length of tour? Assignment (sniper/cook/transport etc) Injured? Type of injury. Fatalities/injuries in unit. Did soldier witness death/injury? Substance abuse? Family history of …