US army suicides highest in 2007

Army report says 115 suicides by soldiers in 2007 is highest number ever recorded.

    The attempted suicides in 2007 included 166 during deployments to Iraq or Afghanistan [AFP]

    The 2007 figures show an increase of almost 13 per cent over the previous year which had 102 confirmed suicides.
    Colonel Thomas Languirand said: "It's the highest number since the army has been keeping records."
    Weapons access
    Army officials say the rate has since remained at a similar level, with 38 confirmed suicides recorded for 2008.
    The army also said there were 935 suicide attempts in 2007.
    The year also saw the highest number of US casualties in Iraq and increased levels of violence in Afghanistan.
    Army officials say that long and repeated combat deployments were a major source of stress. However, they found no direct relationship between increased conflict and suicides.
    Colonel Elspeth Ritchie said: "In terms of this current conflict, we see a lot of things going on in the war which do contribute.
    "Mainly it is the long time and multiple deployments away from home, the exposure to really terrifying and horrifying things, the easy availability of loaded weapons, and, of course, it's very, very busy right now," Ritchie said.
    "One of the most potent risk factor is the access to loaded weapons."
    Officials say the suicide rate for the army remained below a civilian rate of 19.5 suicides per 100,000 people in the general population.
    The army rate stands at 18.8 suicides per 100,000 regular active duty troops.
    This figure would be 16.6 per cent if based on a larger pool that includes reservists on active duty.
    In 2006 the suicide rate among active service members was 17.3 per 100,000, compared to 12.8 in 2005 and 10.8 in 2004. In 2001 the rate was 9.8 per 100,000.
    The attempted suicides among soliders in 2007 included 166 during deployments to Iraq or Afghanistan.
    Forty-three per cent of those who killed themselves did so after being deployed and 31 per cent took their lives during deployments.
    Twenty-six per cent were soldiers who had never been deployed.
    "Suicide behaviours were significantly more common for young, Caucasian, unmarried, junior enlisted soldiers," the report said.
    Most of those who committed suicide in Iraq or Afghanistan were on their first tour.
    Some common factors among those who took their own lives were trouble with relationships, work problems and legal and financial difficulties, officials said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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