Military Suicides Hit New High in 2012

349 suicides exceeded Afghanistan death toll

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 15, 2013 12:36 AM CST

(Newser) – Military suicides hit a grim new high in 2012, and experts believe that the problem may only get worse despite the Pentagon's best efforts, the AP finds. There were a total of 349 suicides among active-duty troops, the highest since the Pentagon began closely tracking the problem in 2001 and more than the 295 Americans who died in Afghanistan last year. The Army recorded a record 182 suicides, while there were 59 in the Air Force and 60 in the Navy. The Marine Corps saw an alarming 50% rise in suicides, to 48.

The Pentagon has made reversing the rise in suicides a priority, but the total kept climbing even as the US ended its involvement in Iraq and began winding down its involvement in Afghanistan. "Now that we're decreasing our troops and they're coming back home, that's when they're really in the danger zone, when they're transitioning back to their families, back to their communities, and really finding a sense of purpose for themselves," says Kim Ruocco, whose husband killed himself between Iraq deployments in 2005. She now directs a suicide prevention program for the support group Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, or TAPS.

US soldiers board a military plane as they leave Afghanistan.
US soldiers board a military plane as they leave Afghanistan.   (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq, File)
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One of the things we learned during our careers is that stress, guns and alcohol constitute a dangerous mixture. - Retired Army generals Peter W. Chiarelli and Dennis J. Reimer

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