MORE U.S. SOLDIERS COMMIT SUICIDE THAN DIE IN ACTION - PENTAGON
- Suicide is on the rise in the U.S. military, averaging almost one every day, according to statistics, AP said.
In the first 155 days of 2012 there was 154 suicides among active troops, around 50% more than the number killed in action in Afghanistan, according to Pentagon statistics obtained by Associated Press. This is the highest number in 10 years.
The numbers reflect the burden of conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to experts. The military is also struggling with increased sexual assaults, alcohol abuse, domestic violence and other problems.
Suicides had levelled off in 2010 and 2011, but this year's surge has caught officials by surprise.
Studies have pointed to combat exposure, post-traumatic stress, misuse of prescription drugs and personal financial problems as possible reasons for the increase.
Army data suggest soldiers with multiple combat tours are at greater risk of killing themselves, although a substantial proportion of the deaths are among soldiers who have never been deployed.
The unpopular war in Afghanistan is winding down with the last combat troops scheduled to leave at the end of 2014. But this year has seen record numbers of soldiers killed, and there also have been several scandals involving military misconduct.
The total of 154 suicides so far this year compares to 130 in the same period last year, an 18% increase. This year's January-May total is up 25% from two years ago, and it is 16% greater than in 2009, which ended with the highest yearly total so far.
Suicide totals have exceeded U.S. combat deaths in Afghanistan in other years, including 2008 and 2009.
The numbers are rising despite years of effort to encourage troops to seek help with mental health problems. Many in the military believe that seeking help is a sign of weakness and a potential threat to promotion.
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