Steady rise in suicides alarms Army
WASHINGTON - The Army is investigating a stunning number of suicides in January - a count that could surpass all combat deaths on America's two warfronts last month.
According to figures obtained by The Associated Press, there were 24 suspected suicides in January, compared with five in January of 2008, six in January of 2007, and 10 in January of 2006.
Yearly suicides have been rising steadily since 2004 amid increasing stress on the force from long and repeated tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The service has rarely, if ever, released a month-by-month update on suicides, but officials said yesterday they wanted to re-emphasize "the urgency and seriousness necessary for preventive action at all levels" of the force.
An alarmed Army leadership took the unusual step of briefing congressional leaders on the information yesterday morning.
The big monthly count follows an annual report last week showing that soldiers killed themselves at the highest rate on record in 2008. The toll for all of last year - 128 confirmed and 15 pending investigation - was an increase for the fourth straight year.