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Army suicides highest in 18 months

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army suffered 32 suicides in June, the highest number for a single month since January 2009, when the suicide rate in the Army began to spike.

The increase in the number of suicides in June was likely driven by the "continued stresses on the force" caused by the Iraq and Afghan wars, said Col. Chris Philbrick, the director of the Army's suicide prevention task force. Until last month, the Army had begun to see signs that the rate was trending downward among active-duty troops.

The June numbers, however, represent a disappointing setback and suggest that after nine years of combat, the Army is showing signs of strain.

The results from the first two weeks of July suggest the suicide rate this month will not be as high.

So far this year, 80 active-duty soldiers have committed suicide or are suspected of having committed suicide, down from 88 in the first six months of last year. The Army National Guard, by contrast, has seen 65 suicides in 2010, up from 42 last year.

The suicide rate in the Army in 2009 exceeded the rate among civilians for the first time in decades.

The number of suicides in June was about the same as the number of Army troops killed in Afghanistan last month.

Army suicides highest in 18 months 07/16/10 [Last modified: Friday, July 16, 2010 11:30pm]
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