US soldiers killed themselves at the rate of more then one per day in July, according to data released by the Army last week, making it the worst month on record for Army suicides since the military began releasing monthly suicide records in 2009.
As the Army wages war on suicides among its military personnel, recently released statistics suggests they might be losing the battle. The Army reports there were twenty-two potential suicides in July among active-duty soldiers.
Three of the deaths of the Army soldiers have been confirmed by military investigators as suicides and nineteen remain under investigation, according to the statement issued by the U.S. Department of Defense.
The figures released by the DOD were triple the numbers reported by the Army in June of 2011, when the Army reported nine potential suicides among soldiers on active-duty with the military.
During the month of July, ten deaths by Army Reservists were reported as potential suicides and are under investigation by the military.
In a 350-page report [pdf] by the Army on Health Promotion, Risk Reduction and Suicide Prevention released in 2010, military officials said, "These are not just statistics; they are our soldiers. They are soldiers who may be stressed, feel isolated, become dependent on drugs or just need more time to recover."
Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, vice chief of staff of the Army, stated:
“Every suicide represents a tragic loss to our Army and the nation. While the high number of potential suicides in July is discouraging, we are confident our efforts aimed at increasing individuals’ resiliency, while reducing incidence of at-risk and high-risk behavior across the force, are having a positive impact. We absolutely recognize there is much work to be done and remain committed to ensuring our people are cared for and have ready access to the best possible programs and services.”
The Army said in last year's report that a quarter of a million soldiers had sought help from mental and behavioral health experts provided by the military. They say soldiers, for the most part, are "recognizing the importance of individual help-seeking behavior and commanders realize the importance of early intervention."
"General Chiarelli said that the majority of Army suicides — 60 percent — are committed during a soldier’s first enlistment, typically four years, and that the most dangerous year is the first. We see more suicides in that first year than any other year," said Chiarelli, reports the New York Times.
The Washington Post reports that according to a Rand Corporation study the suicide rate among troops in the Army and Marine Corp is "about the same or slightly lower the population at large."