HUNTSVILLE, Alabama January 14, 2013
Suicide took the lives of more active duty military personnel in 2012 than the fighting in Afghanistan, The Associated Press is reporting today.
According to sources not identified by The AP, there were 349 military suicides last year — far exceeding the previous high of 301 for a single year. In the war in Afghanistan, 295 soldiers died in 2012.
On average, almost one soldier per day committed suicide.
While military leaders have put a new focus on combating the rising suicide rate, the suicide rates have not declined. There were 301 suicides in 2011.
According to the AP, the Army had the highest number of suicides among active-duty troops last year at 182, but the Marine Corps had the largest percentage increase — up 50 percent to 48.
There were 59 suicides in the Air Force and 60 in the Navy.
It is unknown if this rate is higher than the civilian population’s rate for suicide.
Alabama Media Group and al.com recently published a series of stories studying the cost of war since the 2001 terrorist attacks. Among the issues included in the series was the rising trend of suicide among soldiers.
“Suicide is the enemy within the lines,” said Maj. Gen. Lynn Collyar, the commanding officer of the Army’s Aviation and Missile Command (AMCOM) at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville during a suicide stand down in October. “It’s a faceless enemy; it’s basically inside the wire right now.”
One former Army soldier said she considered herself suicidal while serving and that the military culture did not lend itself to soldiers seeking help.