September 6, 2008
WASHINGTON â€“ Soldier suicides this year could surpass the record rate of last year, Army officials said Thursday, urging military leaders at all levels to redouble prevention efforts for a force strained by two wars.
As of the end of August, there were 62 confirmed suicides among active duty soldiers and Guard and Reserve troops called to active duty, officials said. Another 31 deaths appear to be suicides but are still being investigated.
If all are confirmed, that means that the number for 2008 could eclipse the 115 of last year â€” and the rate per 100,000 could surpass that of the civilian population, Col. Eddie Stephens, deputy director of human resources policy, said at a Pentagon news conference.
“Army leaders are fully aware that repeated deployments have led to increased distress and anxiety for both soldiers and their families,” Army Secretary Pete Geren said.