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U.S. Army Report: Record-High Suicides

August 2, 2010

According to The New York Times, a new United States Army report suggests that while military suicides have reached historic highs, commanders are failing to address soldiers’ mental health and other problems.

For the first time since the Vietnam War, the Army suicide rate has surpassed the civilian rate.

One notable finding challenged the belief that repeated deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan are responsible for the rise in Army suicides; the report found that 79 percent of the soldiers who died by suicide had been deployed only once or not at all.

However, the report also suggested that continuous deployments in two wars have resulted in a lowering of Army recruiting and retention standards. Many commanders have disregarded high-risk behavior, such as to drinking and taking drugs, among their troops and there has been decrease in soldiers forced to leave the Army for misconduct.

Report recommendations include:

  • Tightening enlistment standards
  • Expanding mental health screenings
  • Coordinating better between primary care physicians and mental health counselors.

Army Study To Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemember (STARRS)

Learn more about Army STARRS is the largest study of mental health risk and resilience ever conducted among military personnel at www.armystarrs.org.

Beginning in fall 2010, Army STARRS investigators will look for factors that help protect a Soldier’s mental health and those factors that put a Soldier’s mental health at risk.

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