According to a study, military suicide rates were at an all time high during 2012 — almost one per day — making the number more than the casualties in Afghanistan (237). The bad news is that the experts think the trend will grow worse this year.
The Pentagon said 349 active-duty troops killed themselves in 2012, up more than 15 percent from 2011 despite renewed efforts by the military to stem the suicide rate.
The problem reflects severe strains on military personnel burdened with more than a decade of combat in Afghanistan and Iraq, and of fighting someone else’s war at the risk of their life and limb.
The Army, as the largest service, counted the biggest number of suicides, with 182 soldiers killing themselves in 2012, according to preliminary figures. The Navy had 60 suicides, the Air Force had 59 and the Marines had 48.
The Pentagon pointed to steps to bolster suicide prevention efforts, including expanding a suicide prevention hotline. Still, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta last year acknowledged that the suicides were the most frustrating issue he had faced since taking over the Pentagon in 2011.
The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that, roughly, a veteran commits suicide once every 80 minutes in America, a trend that may be worsening.