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article imageU.S. Army Suicides Expected to Hit a New High This Year

By Joan Firstenberg     Nov 17, 2009 in World
Suicides among U.S. soldiers this year topped last year's record-breaking numbers. The majority are killing themselves while still on duty, the rest before leaving home, or after coming home.
Suicides in the U.S. Army are expected to spike this year, at a time when President Barack Obama is reportedly close to a decision to send up to 40-thousand more troops into Afghanistan. Reuters reports that the number of active-duty suicides so far this year already matches last year's record rate of 140 deaths. Another 71 soldiers committed suicide after returning home from the fighting.
General Peter Chiarelli, Army Vice Chief of Staff told a Pentagon briefing Tuesday, "We are almost certainly going to end the year higher than last year. This is horrible, and I do not want to downplay the significance of these numbers in any way."
But Chiarelli had no answers for what might be causing all these suicides. The Army recently revealed that one in five lower ranking soldiers were suffering from mental health problems like depression.
Chiarelli said the Army is exploring whether stress related to future deployment could be a factor in the deaths of soldiers yet to be sent abroad. He said he's hoping that a new study being carried out in conjunction with the National Institute of Mental Health can shed some light.
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