Soldier Suicide (and Homicide)

Iraqi Veterans Suiciding at Home

Officials: Army suicides at 3-decade high

Suicides among Army troops soared again last year and are at a nearly three-decade high, Defense Department officials announced Thursday.

At least 128 soldiers killed themselves in 2008. But the final count is likely to be considerably higher because 15 more suspicious deaths are still being investigated and could also turn out to be self-inflicted, the Army said.

The new figure of more than 128 compares to 115 in 2007 and 102 in 2006 — and is the highest since record keeping began in 1980.

It also calculates roughly to a rate of 20.2 per 100,000 soldiers — which is higher than the adjusted civilian rate for the first time since the Vietnam War, officials told a Pentagon news conference.

A new training and prevention effort will be made starting next week.

“We need to move quickly to do everything we can to reverse this disturbing … number,” Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli said.

Col. Elspeth Ritchie, a psychiatric consultant to the Army surgeon general, made an open plea for more U.S. mental health professionals to sign on to work for the military. Full Story

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