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National Briefing / Washington, D.c.

Army suicides still on the rise

March 06, 2009|Times Wire Reports

Eighteen soldiers are suspected of killing themselves in February, the Army said, following 24 suicides in January. The increase continues a four-year rise in an Army under stress from two wars.

The Army normally releases figures on self-inflicted deaths only once a year. But officials decided to announce monthly figures to focus attention on the problem and on prevention.

Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli said there were two confirmed suicides in February and 16 suspected but still being investigated -- compared with 11 confirmed deaths in the same month of 2008.

Chiarelli said it appeared the Army would see a rate of 20.5 suicides per 100,000 in 2008, surpassing the civilian rate for the first time since record keeping began in 1980. The civilian rate is about 19.5 per 100,000 when adjusted to mirror the gender and age mix in the Army.

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