January 14, 2013, CBS News/Associated Press
Suicides in the U.S. military surged to a record 349 last year, far exceeding American combat deaths in Afghanistan, and some private experts are predicting the dark trend will worsen this year. The problem reflects severe strains on military personnel burdened with more than a decade of combat in Afghanistan and Iraq, complicated by anxiety over the prospect of being forced out of a shrinking force. The 349 suicides among active-duty troops last year were up from 301 the year before and exceeded the Pentagon’s own internal projection of 325. Last year’s total is the highest since the Pentagon began closely tracking suicides in 2001. It exceeds the 295 Americans who died in Afghanistan last year. Military suicides began rising in 2006 and soared to a then-record 310 in 2009 before leveling off for two years. It came as a surprise to many that the numbers resumed an upward climb this year, given that U.S. military involvement in Iraq is over and the Obama administration is taking steps to wind down the war in Afghanistan.
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