Should the military consider a suicide attempt a crime?
A Marine from California is appealing his conviction on several charges, including trying to kill himself.
Pvt. Lazzaric Caldwell, who was never deployed but has been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, slit his wrist in a suicide attempt, while awaiting trial on charges of stealing a belt in Okinawa. He was then charged with trying to kill himself.
Why does the military consider it a crime? The answer is in the decision of a Navy court which reopened the 2010 case last November:
As to the public policy argument, I’m not persuaded that criminal prosecution of genuine suicide attempts should be prohibited under military law. As both parties note in their briefs, self-injury has long been a chargeable offense in military jurisprudence. Conceivably, many instances of malingering or self injury could be concealed in the guise of a sincere suicide attempt. My own personal experience over the past 25 years of active duty service leads me to believe that self-injury, whether it results in an intentional suicide or not, has the potential to cause tremendous prejudice to the good order and discipline within a unit. If a convening authority feels it necessary to resort to court-martial to address this type of a leadership challenge, he or she should be allowed to do so, at least until the executive or legislative branches of government have proscribed this approach by law or regulation.