Active-Duty Soldiers Take Their Own Lives at Record Rate
by ELISABETH BUMILLER
New York Times, January 19, 2012
WASHINGTON — Suicides among active-duty soldiers hit another record high in 2011, Army officials said on Thursday, although there was a slight decrease if nonmobilized Reserve and National Guard troops were included in the calculation.
The Army also reported a sharp increase, nearly 30 percent, in violent sex crimes last year by active-duty troops. More than half of the victims were active-duty female soldiers ages 18 to 21.
“This is unacceptable,” Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, the departing vice chief of staff of the Army, said at a news conference, referring to the jump in violent sex offenses. “We have zero tolerance for this.” General Chiarelli said factors driving the increase in sex crimes were alcohol use and new barracks that offered more privacy. He said it was also possible that reporting of the offenses had increased.
General Chiarelli said that 164 active-duty Army, National Guard, and Reserve troops took their own lives in 2011, compared with 159 in 2010 and 162 in 2009. The increase occurred even as the Army expanded suicide prevention efforts and drug and alcohol counseling, in large part in response to a steady rise in Army suicides that began in 2004.
Asked if he was frustrated by the jump last year in suicide by active-duty soldiers, General Chiarelli said no.
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