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Record 325 suspected Army suicides in 2012

Feb. 1, 2013 - 05:05PM   |   Last Updated: Feb. 1, 2013 - 05:05PM  |  
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A record number of 325 soldiers are believed to have committed suicide in 2012, surpassing the previous year's total, according to numbers released Feb. 1 by the Army.

The grim toll marks a continuing battle by the Army to defeat an elusive enemy that claimed more lives in 2012 than combat in Afghanistan.

As many as 182 active-duty soldiers committed suicide in 2012; 130 deaths have been confirmed as suicides, while the other 52 are still under investigation.

Among National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers who were not on active duty when they died, as many as 143 are believed to have killed themselves. Of those, 117 deaths have been confirmed as suicides and 26 are still under investigation.

Of the 325 soldiers believed to have committed suicide last year, 247 deaths have been confirmed as suicides and 78 are still under investigation.

Typically, about 90 percent of suspected suicides are confirmed.

In 2011, the Army confirmed 165 active-duty suicides. Among reserve-component soldiers who were not on active duty, the Army confirmed 118 suicides — 82 from the Guard and 36 from the Reserve. That's a total of 283 confirmed suicides in 2011.

The 2012 number of 325 surpasses the Army's record of 305 suicide deaths in 2010.

December's numbers

Also released Jan. 29 were the suicide numbers for December.

Seven active-duty soldiers are suspected to have committed suicide in December; three cases have been confirmed as suicides. This is a slight decline from November, when the Army reported as many as 12 suspected suicides.

Among reserve-component soldiers who were not on active duty, the number of suspected suicides was 15. Four have been confirmed. The same number of soldiers from this population was suspected of killing themselves in November.

In 2012, the preponderance of suicides among active-duty and non-active-duty troops involved white males, an Army personnel official told Army Times on background.

Most of the deaths were troops in the 17- to 36-year-old age range, the official said.

The largest group consisted of junior enlisted soldiers — 54 percent were privates through specialists.

And while suicide among noncommissioned officers dropped slightly, to 37 percent of the deaths in 2012 from 38 percent in 2011, a majority of the suicides in 2012 involved soldiers with one or more deployments.

The Army continues to fight back against the rising suicide numbers, the personnel official told Army Times.

This includes helping soldiers develop positive life-coping skills; encouraging troops to seek help; raising awareness of suicide prevention; and conducting suicide surveillance, analysis and reporting to inform senior leaders.

It's too early to know whether the Army will have another servicewide suicide prevention standdown, the official said.

The standdowns in 2009 and 2012 helped the Army's effort to enhance leader involvement and emphasize suicide prevention and resilience training, but the numbers don't show evidence that the standdowns resulted in a decrease in suicides, the official said.

"Army leaders will make a decision as to whether or not another standdown will occur in the future," the official said.

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