Army: Jan. suicides 'terrifying'

Feb. 5, 2009 at 5:04 PM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 5 (UPI) -- As many as 24 U.S. soldiers may have taken their own lives in January, the Army announced Thursday, more than were killed in combat last month.

Military officials said that seven suicides had been confirmed and another 17 possible suicides were under investigation, CNN reported. A total of 16 soldiers died in combat during the month in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

"This is terrifying," one official said. "We do not know what is going on."

Last week, the Army reported that the suicide rate in 2008 was the highest since it has been keeping records, 20.2 confirmed suicides among every 100,000 active-duty soldiers and activated National Guard members. There were 128 confirmed suicides and 15 suspected.

Col. Kathy Platoni said that a major risk factor for soldiers is the multiple deployments most have experienced.

"When people are apart you have infidelity, financial problems, substance abuse and child behavioral problems," Platoni said. "The more deployments, the more it is exacerbated."

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