The suicide rate among U.S. military personnel is reaching a new high, according to official statistics.
This year to date, 116 confirmed or suspected suicides have been recorded – twenty-one more than at the same juncture last year. In July alone, thirty-eight soldiers were either confirmed or believed to have killed themselves.
The self-inflicted death rate among active duty soldiers has increased by 22 percent this year, and for the first time, there were also more suicides among soldiers ranked sergeant or higher (excluding officers ranked lieutenant and higher), a military expert told USA Today.
“Suicide is the toughest enemy I have faced in my 37 years in the Army,” Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, vice chief of staff of the Army, said in a written statement.
“That said, I do believe suicide is preventable,” he added. “To combat it effectively will require sophisticated solutions aimed at helping individuals to build resiliency and strengthen their life coping skills”
More soldiers die by their own hand than are killed in combat or automobile accidents, according to Army chief of staff Gen. Ray Odierno. Since the start of the War in Iraq, the military suicide rate doubled. It stabilized in 2009, but the rise in suicides this year represents the first increase since then.