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Does Pentagon Need to do More to Understand Suicide Problem?

Washington Post, By the Ediorial Board: SUICIDES IN THE U.S. military rose in 2012 to a record high of 349, with more personnel dying by their own hand than on the battlefield. The numbers are a grim reminder of the challenge that suicide has long posed for the military — and they should lend urgency to the Pentagon’s efforts to combat this insidious problem. The 349 suicides among active-duty troops exceeded not only the 2011 total of 301 but also the Pentagon’s internal projection for the year of 325. By comparison, The Post’s Ernesto Londoño wrote, 229 troops were killed in combat in Afghanistan last year. The number of suicides, which is subject to revision as the 2012 deaths are fully investigated, is the highest since 2001, when defense officials began keeping track. The military suicide rate is below that of the general civilian population, but the rising rate — even as the Pentagon has made suicide prevention a priority, with the establishment of numerous mental health initiatives — has unsettled military officials. “Epidemic” is the word used by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and others. To Read Full Article