Army, Navy Suicides at Record High
by Gregg Zoroya
USA Today, Nov. 18, 2012
Suicides among active-duty forces across the military are now occurring at a rate faster than one per day.
With six weeks left in the year, the Army and Navy are already reporting record numbers of suicides, with the Air Force and Marine Corps close to doing the same, making 2012 the worst year for military suicides since careful tracking began in 2001.
The deaths are now occurring at a rate faster than one per day. On Nov. 11, confirmed or suspected suicides among active-duty forces across the military reached 323, surpassing the Pentagon’s previous high of 310 suicides set in 2009.
Of that total, the Army accounted for 168, surpassing its high last year of 165; 53 sailors took their own lives, one more than last year.
The Air Force and Marine Corps are only a few deaths from record numbers. Fifty-six airmen had committed suicide as of Nov. 11, short of the 60 in 2010. There have been 46 suicides among Marines, whose worst year was 2009 with 52.
“We continue to reach out to and embrace those who are struggling,” the Army’s chief personnel officer, Lt. Gen. Howard Bromberg, said in a statement Sunday. “We’ve taken great strides to prevent suicides, but our work isn’t done.”
Military and medical leaders have been searching for answers to what Defense Secretary Leon Panetta describes as an “epidemic” of suicides ever since the numbers began increasing among soldiers and Marines in 2005.
Military suicide researcher David Rudd sees a direct link with the effects of combat and frequent deployments.
“The reason you’re going to see record numbers is because these wars are drawing down and these young men and women are returning home,” Rudd said. “When they return home, that’s where the conflicts surface.”
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