Record number of military suicides in 2012

David Goldman/AP file photo

Two branches of the U.S. military have reported a record number of suicides in 2012, according to USA Today.

The Army has reported 168 soldiers have taken their lives, while 53 Navy sailors have done the same, both records. The Air Force and Marine Corps are just short of seeing their highest numbers since 2001, when the statistic was first recorded.

The high numbers are possibly attributable to simply more troops coming home, USA Today reported, as the war in Iraq recently ended and the conflict in Afghanistan is winding down.

President Obama signed an executive order in August directing federal agencies to expand mental health care for veterans, including suicide prevention. The order called for the Veterans Affairs Department to add 800 support counselors, with incentives to hire 1,600 more by June 2013.

The suicide rate was higher in the military than the general population for the first time in 2012, with 30 incidents per 100,000, compared to 24 per 100,000 for a demographically comparable civilian population.

Military officials said they can do more to help those in need. 

"Suicide is preventable and its prevention is a shared responsibility among all members of the Army family," said Gen. David M. Rodriguez, U.S. Army Forces Command commander. 

Navy Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert echoed the need to work together.

"We have to empower our sailors to be able to deal with stress,” Greenert said at an event Friday. “We have to look out for each other and we have to embed . . . in all of our shipmates to make sure that, if somebody is reaching out, we're ready to take care of them."
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