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Suicide toll for Army higher than combat losses

Oct. 2, 2013 - 05:39PM   |  
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More soldiers have died by their own hand than in battle this year, as the Army continues to fight the elusive enemy that also claimed more lives in 2012 than combat in Afghanistan.

So far this year, 106 active-duty soldiers and 102 reserve component soldiers who were not on active duty are believed to have committed suicide, the Army announced Oct. 1.

In comparison, 91 U.S. troops — 80 of them soldiers — died supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

The Army continues to focus on suicide prevention, but the results appear to be mixed, with potential improvement among active-duty soldiers but an alarming increase in the numbers among reserve component soldiers who are not on active duty.

On Oct. 1, the Army announced there were 12 suspected suicides among active-duty soldiers in August, seven fewer than the month before.

Two of the 12 deaths have been confirmed as suicides and the others are still under investigation.

In July, the Army reported as many as 19 suicides among active-duty soldiers; three have been confirmed and the others are still under investigation.

So far this year, as many as 106 soldiers are believed to have committed suicide. Of those, 51 deaths have been confirmed as suicides.

This is a decrease from 2012; this time last year, the Army reported as many as 131 suicides among active-duty soldiers.

The news is the opposite for reserve component soldiers who were not on active duty.

In August, the Army reported eight suspected suicides. Five of the soldiers were in the Army National Guard and three were in the Army Reserve.

One of the eight deaths has been confirmed as a suicide.

In July, the Army reported 10 suspected suicides among soldiers in this population. Three cases have been confirmed.

So far this year, as many as 102 soldiers from this population are believed to have killed themselves. That’s 22 more than the 80 reported this time last year.

The Army must focus on suicide prevention throughout the year, Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. John Campbell said in September, which was suicide awareness month.

“This is something we can’t just look at in one month,” Campbell said, according to an Army news story. “It has to be a 365-day mission to make sure we can provide our soldiers with the tools they need to deal with the stressors of everyday life, and help them understand that seeking help is a sign of strength not weakness.”

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