Ninety-nine U.S. soldiers on active duty killed themselves last year, the highest rate of suicide in the Army in 26 years, a military report said.
One out of four soldiers who committed suicide did so while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, according to a report scheduled to be released Thursday. Iraq was the most common deployment location for U.S. soldiers who either attempted suicide or committed suicide.
The report, which The Associated Press obtained ahead of its public release, cited 88 suicides in 2005. The 99 recorded in 2006 was the highest raw number since the 102 suicides reported in 1991, the year of the Persian Gulf War when there were more soldiers on active duty.
The suicide rate for the Army has fluctuated over the past 26 years, from last year's high of 17.3 per 100,000 to a low of 9.1 per 100,000 in 2001.
Failed personal relationships, legal and financial problems and the stress of their jobs were factors motivating the soldiers to commit suicide, according to the report. It also found a significant relationship between suicide attempts and the number of days deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan or nearby countries where troops were participating in the war effort.
The 99 suicides included 28 soldiers deployed to the two wars. About twice as many women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan committed suicide as did women not sent to war, the report said.
Preliminary numbers for the first half of 2007 indicate the number of suicides could decline across the service but increase among troops serving in the wars, officials said.
The increases for 2006 came as Army officials worked to set up a number of new and stronger programs for providing mental health care to a force strained by the longer-than-expected war in Iraq and the global counterterrorism war entering its sixth year, the AP reports.
As of June 30, 2007, 44 soldiers had committed suicide, statistics showed. Of those, 17 were deployed away from their home base.
In other years, the report showed:
- 2006: 101 suicides, 30 deployed (17.3 per 100,000)
- 2005: 88 suicides, 25 deployed (12.8 per 100,000)
- 2004: 67 suicides, 13 deployed (10.8 per 100,000)
- 2003: 79 suicides, 26 deployed (12.4 per 100,000)
It is difficult to compare the military suicide rate to that of the private sector because of demographic differences and overall human stress factors, officials say.
In 2006, the overall suicide rate for the United States was 13.4 per 100,000 people. It was 21.1 per 100,000 people for all men aged 17 to 45, compared to a rate of 17.8 for men in the Army.
And it was 5.46 per 100,000 for all women, compared to an Army rate of 11.3 women soldiers per 100,000, CNN reports.
Prepared by Alexander Timoshik