Soldier Suicides at Record High

Long deployments are raising stress levels, experts warn
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 1, 2008 4:26 AM CST
Specialist Victor McCleave, center, salutes along with other members of the 812 Transportation Battalion during a Farewell Ceremony for the unit as it departs for Fort Stewart, Georgia, in December. Soldier...   (KRT Photos)
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(Newser) – A record number of US soldiers may have killed themselves last year and it's likely linked to the stresses of war, according to the latest figures from the military. The survey found 121 soldiers died in confirmed or suspected suicides last year, a 20% increase over the previous year and the highest number since the Army started keeping records 30 years ago. The number of attempted suicides has also leaped since the Iraq war began.

Long deployments are thought to be a key factor. Relationship problems are the main cause of suicides, and long deployments to Iraq or Afghanistan are increasing strains on families. "I think it's a marker of the stress on the force," said an Army psychiatrist. "Families are getting tired." The Army is striving to increase help for those coping with problems, and to teach soldiers how to recognize suicide warning signs in their buddies.