Army Suicides in January Surpass Combat Deaths

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 5, 2009 2:47 PM CST

(Newser) – As many as 24 US Army soldiers took their own lives in January, an enormous rise over previous years, the Army Times reports. The deaths of seven soldiers have been confirmed as suicides, while 17 pending cases will likely get the same designation, the AP reports. If that happens, the death toll from suicide will surpass that of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan for January.

The figure is 6 times higher than in 2008, and 8 times higher than in 2004. 128 soldiers were deemed suicides in 2008, the highest rate in nearly 30 years; if 15 pending cases are classified as such, it will be the highest on record. The Army has ordered service-wide training in suicide recognition and prevention that will last from this month until June.

The body of a soldier is escorted by a US Army Honor Guard at his funeral.   (AP Photo)
Graphic shows active duty Army suicides from 1990 to 2008.   (AP Photo)
Army troops secure the site of a suicide attack on an Iraqi army convoy in Mosul, Iraq.   (AP Photo)
Brig. Gen. Rhonda Cornum, assistant surgeon general for force protection, discusses the Army's efforts to study and understand suicide among American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.   (AP Photo)
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Each of these losses is a personal tragedy that is felt throughout the Army family. The trend and trajectory seen in January further heightens the seriousness and urgency that all of us must have in preventing suicides. - Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli

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