The U.S. military last week announced that there have been 154 suicides among active-duty soldiers this year, surpassing the number of troops who have died this year in combat, the New York Times reports.
That figure represents an 18% increase over the 130 such suicides that occurred in the same period in 2011. At that pace -- nearly one suicide per day -- there will be more suicides this year than in any year since the beginning of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The suicide rate has risen despite preventive efforts by the Pentagon, including the establishment of a Defense Suicide Prevention Office.
Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, attributes the number of suicides to the stigma attached to receiving counseling, a lack of qualified mental health professionals, and personal stresses, including high unemployment rates among military families (Williams, New York Times, 6/8).