Record 325 Suspected Army Suicides in 2012

325 confirmed or potential suicides were recorded last year among military personnel.

The sad numbers of the toll mark a battle by the Army to defeat an elusive enemy that claimed more lives in 2012 than combat in Afghanistan. Photo: candi404/Flickr

According to the data revealed by the Army today, as many as 182 active soldiers committed suicide in 2012; 130 deaths have been confirmed as suicides, while the other 52 are still under investigation.

As Army Times writes, among National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers who were off duty at the time of their deaths, 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 while 78 are still being investigated.

In 2011, 165 active-duty suicides were confirmed by the Army. 118 suicides were committed by the non-duty personnel — 82 from the Guard and 36 from the Reserve. That’s a total of 283 confirmed suicides in 2011.

When compared to the previous years, the 2012 number of 325 surpasses the Army’s record of 305 suicide deaths in 2010.

“Our highest on record,” said Lt. Gen. Howard Bromberg, deputy chief of staff, manpower and personnel for the Army.

The toll continues to rise despite what the military touts as extensive support and counseling programs.

“The Army continues to take aggressive measures head-on to meet the challenge of suicides as every loss of life impacts our family,” added Bromberg.

“In spite of the increased loss of life to suicide, with calendar year 2012 being our highest on record, the Army is confident that through our continued emphasis in the services, programs, policies and training that support our Army family, we will overcome this threat to our Force.

The Pentagon still can’t find out how to identify military personnel at risk for suicide and to provide counseling and other services. The Army and Navy have focused on teaching “resiliency” to troops believed to help potential suicides to cope with stress.

As CNN reports, military experts have previously claimed that one of the enduring challenges is that there doesn’t appear to be a direct link between suicides and the stress of being in the combat zone.

“Nobody knows No. 1, why all the suicides. Nobody has a good theoretical model for explaining this vector, but these are some possible contributors,” said Dr. William Nash, an expert in combat stress injuries.

“The whole system being strained, more temper, stigma is rampant, leaders who should be getting more education for mental health issues but are not.”

Nash went further, adding that the stigma discourages military men from reporting issues related to stress in the combat zone.

“To the extent that a military service branch that is having basically an epidemic of post-traumatic stress disorder is not embracing it as an epidemic, but instead sees it as ‘they’re faking,'” he said. “Which has been part of the stigma problem.”

A private-sector group, the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), which creates and provides military grief support programs, reveals that it receives eight to 10 cases a week of people seeking help dealing with the suicide of a service member.

Of the people contacting the organization for care and support, 18% were “grieving a death by suicide,” TAPS has said.

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