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The number of soldier suicides this year has outnumbered combat deaths. Combat-related deaths in Afghanistan were down to 212 this year, compared to over 400 in 2011, but the number of soldiers taking their own lives continues to rise. According to stats cited by CBS from the Department of the Army, 303 active-duty, Reserve and National Guard soldiers committed suicide.
177 of the suicide cases were active-duty soldiers, CBS noted. Throughout much of this year, the suicide rate amounted to one soldier taking their own life per day. In response, the military introduced a number of suicide awareness and prevention programs, including dedicating a day in September in which all active troops had to go through suicide prevention training.
Earlier this year, the Washington Post attributed high suicide numbers “in part [to ] the stress on the force after more than a decade of lengthy and multiple deployments for many troops in support of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta also noted that “Substance abuse, financial distress and relationship problems — the risk factors for suicide — also reflect problems … that will endure beyond war.”
Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email firstname.lastname@example.org.More Natasha Lennard.