Defense officials say suicides among Army troops soared again last year and are at a nearly three-decade high.
At least 128 soldiers killed themselves in 2008. But the Army said the final count is likely to be considerably higher because 15 more suspicious deaths are still being investigated and could also turn out to be self-inflicted.
The new figure of more than 128 compares to 115 in 2007 and 102 in 2006 -- and is the highest since record keeping began in 1980.
It also calculates roughly to a rate of 20.2 per 100,000 soldiers -- which is higher than the adjusted civilian rate for the first time since the Vietnam War.
11 News contacted the Army Public Affairs office, located at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. about the report. They sent us a 12-page report of their findings. They also highlighted the Army's efforts to reduce suicides in the force.
“We want the families who have lost loved ones to suicide to understand how deeply we feel their loss and that we are committed to doing everything possible to prevent this tragedy in our Army,” said Secretary of the Army Pete Geren.
Officials said Thursday a new training and prevention effort will be made starting next week. The Army is calling this training a stand-down, which will run within a 30-day window- going from February 15 to March 15.
The stand-down will include training for peer-level recognition of behaviors that may lead to suicidal behavior, and intervention at the buddy level. The stand-down will be followed by a chain-teaching program focused on suicide prevention, from March 15 to June 15.
To read the full report by Army Public Affairs, click here
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