11, the U.S. military lost 165 soldiers to suicide, a record that narrowly beat the 2009 level of 160. This year things have gotten much, much worse, and up to the end of November the suicide deaths are up to 303.
Putting this in perspective, that’s actually quite a bit more than the number of U.S. troops slain in combat so far in 2012. That figure is 212, though the overall U.S. death toll in Afghanistan is 307, including non-combat deaths.
The military has been desperate to get a handle on the rising suicide rate, making several very public efforts, none of which seems to have accomplished much of anything.
The latest on that is a number of Congressmen pushing for a new law allowing the military to ask “unstable” troops whether they own any personal guns, though as with most of the legislative “solutions” to this problem it seems focused more on adding to the stigma of being considered “at risk” than actually encouraging people to seek help. Antiwar
FACTS & FIGURES
The U.S. military has been struggling to deal with the suicide crisis since numbers began rising in 2004. This year, the average is nearly one soldier suicide a day. NPR
Military and medical leaders have been searching for answers to what Defense Secretary Leon Panetta describes as an "epidemic" of suicides ever since the numbers began increasing among soldiers and Marines. USA Today
As many as 12 active-duty soldiers committed suicide in November, pushing the Army above last year’s record number of suicides, military officials said in December. Army Times
The Army has now had 177 suspected suicides among active-duty soldiers this year. Last year’s total of confirmed suicides was 165. Army Times
Earlier this year, a high-ranking army official wrote, “Suicide is the toughest enemy I have faced in my 37 years in the Army.” Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has described suicide in the army as “one of the most frustrating problems.” Think Progress