US Army suicides peaked in 2008

January 30th, 2009 - 10:35 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Jan 30 (DPA) Suicides in the US Army reached their highest level in decades in 2008, with more than 125 soldiers taking their lives despite efforts to improve psychological care.The Army released a report Thursday showing that 128 soldiers committed suicide last year, and that number could climb because there are 15 cases that remain under investigation. There were 115 suicides in 2007.

The numbers increased for the fourth year in a row despite sweeping improvements to identify and treat soldiers exhibiting suicidal behaviour.

The initiatives also educated soldiers about how to recognize potentially dangerous behavior among their ranks and to eliminate the stigma associated with seeking mental health care.

“We need to help our soldiers and their families understand that it’s okay to ask for help,” General Peter Chiarelli, the vice chief of staff of the Army, said in a statement.

Chiarelli said the Army was exploring more ways to improve the mental health of soldiers. The Army introduced the earlier measures years ago after soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffered from mental trauma.

The number of suicides for 2008 was the highest since the Army began tracking the incidents in 1980.

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