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Army suicides double 2003 rate

Aug. 2, 2009 at 4:25 PM   |   Comments

NEW YORK, Aug. 2 (UPI) -- The U.S. Army's records Sunday showed suicides among troops are now at their highest since the Army began tracking them 30 years ago.

The New York Times reported there have been 129 suicides so far in 2009, more than the number who perished during the same period in combat. In 2008, there were 192 suicides -- double the number in 2003, when the war began -- among active-duty troops and inactive-reserve soldiers.

The newspaper warned suicide statistics often are under-counted and the numbers reported do not include statistics from other military branches nor for veterans no longer in military service.

Mental health advocates and veterans groups' criticisms have caused the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs to increase attempts to deal with the problem. Suicide-prevention programs have beefed up their numbers of mental health providers.

In 2008, the Army initiated a $50 million, five-year study of suicide causes among troops.

"The 'business as usual' attitudes of the past are no longer appropriate," said George Wright, an Army spokesman. "It's clear we have not found full solutions yet, but we are trying every remedy."

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