U.S. Military Suicides Hit Record High, The number of troops committing suicide last year exceeded the number of combat deaths. Suicides in military rise, even as combat lessens, For U.S. troops, less combat is not translating to less stress. Members of the military committed suicide at a record pace in 2012 – almost one per day – and some experts think the trend will grow worse this year.
Pentagon figures obtained Monday by The Associated Press show 349 suicides among active-duty troops last year, up from 301 the year before and exceeding the Pentagon’s own internal projection of 325.
Last year’s total is the highest since the Pentagon began closely tracking suicides in 2001. It exceeds the 295 Americans who died in Afghanistan last year, by the AP’s count.
The Pentagon has struggled to deal with suicides, which Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and others have called an epidemic. The problem reflects severe strains on military personnel burdened with more than a decade of combat in Afghanistan and Iraq, and is increasingly complicated by anxiety over the prospect of being forced out of uniform as defense budgets are cut.
“Now that we’re decreasing our troops and they’re coming back home, that’s when they’re really in the danger zone, when they’re transitioning back to their families, back to their communities and really finding a sense of purpose for themselves,” said Kim Ruocco, whose husband, Marine Maj. John Ruocco, killed himself in 2005. She directs a suicide prevention program for a support group, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, or TAPS.