U.S. Military's Suicide Rate Surpassed Combat Deaths In 2012


January 14, 2013 6:38 PM


U.S. military suicides rose in 2012. Here, the Army's "Generating Health and Discipline in the Force" report, right, is seen last January. The reports was a follow-up to its "Health Promotion/Risk Reduction/Suicide Prevention" report

The number of suicide deaths in the U.S. military surged to a record 349 last year — more than the 295 Americans who died fighting in Afghanistan in 2012. The numbers were first reported by the AP; NPR has confirmed them.

The new figures show that the number of military suicides rose from 2011, when 301 such deaths were reported. And people who work with veterans say the numbers could grow worse, as returning soldiers adjust to civilian life. The AP says the numbers are considered to be "tentative," pending review.

On All Things Considered, NPR's Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman tells co-host Audie Cornish that the figures represent "active duty and reserve ... the largest portion were the active duty Army; 182 took their own lives in 2012."

Tom says the military's suicide problem is a complex one. "Most of those committing suicide are young men, 18-24," he says, who are worried that asking for help will undermine their career.

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Tags: Afghanistan, U.S., military, suicides, war

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Replies to This Discussion

As Military Suicides Rise, Focus Is on Private Weapons

Study reveals top reason behind soldiers' suicides  ... 

Army Col. Carl Castro, who is coordinating $50 million in research into suicide prevention and treatment.

"The core of the issue is that it's not that people who attempt suicide … want to harm themselves as much as they want the pain they're currently in to stop, and they don't see any other way out," Castro said.

The study also found that the soldiers often listed many reasons — an average of 10 each — for suicide, illustrating the complexity of the problem, Bryan said. Other common reasons included the urge to end chronic sadness, a means of escaping people or a way to express desperation.

"focus is on private weapons"... forget about the underlying issues of extreme depression, hopelessness and ptsd caused from multiple tours in the Middle East....no, it's the guns fault. What a bunch of BS! 

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