The posting was subsequently scrubbed from the Fort Bliss website, but the comments are adding new fuel to a contentious debate about whether the record numbers of troops who are taking their own lives are acting out of weakness and selfishness or because of legitimate cases of depression and other psychological traumas.

Pittard is expected to formally retract his comments later this week, but suicide-prevention experts believe that Pittard’s blog posting has already conveyed precisely the wrong message to emotionally-fragile troops.

“Soldiers who are thinking about suicide can’t do what the general says: They can’t suck it up, they can’t let it go, they can’t just move on,” said Barbara Van Dahlen, the founder of Give an Hour, an organization that matches troops with civilian mental-health providers. “They’re not acting out of selfishness; they’re acting because they believe they’ve become a burden to their loved ones and can only relieve that burden by taking their own lives.”