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Almost every day this year, a soldier on active duty took his or her own life — meaning that suicides killed more troops than war, according to a just released study.
The Times as well many other media organizations have reported that there had been 154 suicides this year, compared to 124 military fatalities.
This means that 2012 might mark the highest number of recorded suicides since the beginning of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The military said that suicide rates had seen a tremendous upswing since 2005, prompting the Pentagon to set up a Defense Suicide Prevention Office.
But vets groups claim that the military isn’t doing enough to help them. They say the mental strains of multiple deployments — compounded with scant economic opportunities at home — pushes many present and past soldiers over the edge. Also, many fear seeking help, because of the stigma associated with therapy.
Indeed, military unemployment outpaced civilian unemployment drastically until earlier this year, but the improvement might be because soldiers, frustrated with the bad job market, reportedly have given up seeking work.
Stop Soldier Suicide indicates that soldiers routinely cite mental health concerns: some 50 “reported ‘some’ to ‘extreme difficulty in social functioning, productivity and community involvement” upon their return home.
The soldier advocacy group says the top three causes for suicides include homesickness, “questioning purpose in military service,” and lack of emotional outlets.