As of October, there were 166 suspected Army suicides this year; that's already one more than the total number for 2011. October itself saw 20 suspected suicides, up from 15 in September. That month, an increasingly concerned Army had soldiers suspend their duties to talk about suicide prevention, the AP reports. National Guard and Reserve troops who are not on active duty are also on track to suffer more suicides this year than last. The rising numbers amid increasing outreach have military leadership stumped, though officials note that suicide has been rising in the general population as well.
For two years, suicide figures had been plateauing, before rising again—even as deployments grow less frequent. Combat stress has been seen as a factor in the deaths, but many have killed themselves without ever being deployed. The military has hired more mental health workers and launched programs to address the issue, including "resilience training" that begins at boot camp. "Suicide is preventable, and its prevention is a shared responsibility among all members of the Army family," says a general. (Read more Army suicides stories.)