Military suicides at record high, far outnumbering combat deaths

Wally Santana/AP

Military suicides sharply increased in 2012 and exceeded the number of combat deaths in Afghanistan, according to a report from the Associated Press.

The military had 349 suicides among active duty forces in 2012, up from 301 deaths in 2011, AP reported. The Army had the highest number of suicides in 2012 with 182 deaths, followed by the Navy with 60, the Air Force with 59 and the Marine Corps with 48, AP said, adding that the numbers have not been finalized.  The number of suicides exceeded the 295 American combat deaths in Afghanistan last year, according to AP’s count..

A Pentagon spokeswoman told the AP on Monday that the Defense Department remained committed to helping prevent military suicides, which have been a complex issue for Defense. 

David Rudd, a dean at the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Utah and a researcher in military suicides, told AP that depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse and personal troubles were some of the primary reasons for military suicides. He said he does not see a possible decline in military suicides in the near future.

In August, President Obama signed an executive order directing federal agencies to expand mental health care and suicide prevention programs for service members, veterans and families. 

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