Suicides in the U.S. military reached a record 349 last year, which is the highest it has been since the Pentagon began closely tracking the numbers in 2001.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has called military suicides an epidemic. The number of suicides in active duty service members is up from 301 in 2011 and exceeds the number of Americans who died in Afghanistan last year, which was 295, the Associated Press reports.
Experts say the problem has complex causes and reflects the strain on military personnel. Veterans could experience depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or substance abuse problems after combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. Service members may also have increased anxieties over transitioning to life back home, or about the prospect of having to find different jobs as troops are brought back home and defense budgets are cut, the article said.
The Pentagon analyzes the circumstances of military suicides. In 2011, the most recent year examined, military members who took their own lives tended to be white men under the age of 25, in junior enlisted ranks, with less than a college education. The suicide rate for divorced service members was 55 percent higher than for those who were married, the AP reported.
Via the Associated Press