Army suicides in the month of July topped any other one-month rate, the Department of Defense confirmed in their monthly report on suicide prevalence in the military.
During July, there was one confirmed suicide and 25 potential suicides under investigation among active-duty soldiers, the report said. This brings 2012's number of potential or confirmed Army suicide fatalities to 116, higher than combat or accidental deaths combined.
The 2012 suicide tally is also far higher than the 2011 number for the first-seven months of the year, which stood at 95. Markedly, this year has also seen an up-tick in the number of senior officers committing suicide.
Of the suicides confirmed this year, 54 have been from among the enlisted soldiers ranked sergeant or higher, an Army analyst told USA Today. This group was previously seen as less likely to be at risk for suicide.
A July study by the National Center for Veterans Studies at the University of Utah showed the most commonly cited reason for a suicide attempt by a servicemember was "a desire to end intense emotional distress."
The study also showed that while emotional distress was the top reason cited, the soldiers also usually listed up to 10 other reasons for the suicide attempt. These included a desire to end chronic sadness, a means of escaping others or to express desperation to their peers.
The Army, rather than sweeping the phenomenon under the table, has acknowledged the need for investigations into the prevalence of suicides in their ranks.
"Suicide is the toughest enemy I have faced in my 37 years in the Army," Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, vice chief of staff of the Army said in the report. "To combat it effectively will require sophisticated solutions aimed at helping individuals to build resiliency and strengthen their life coping skills."
Last month during his testimony before Congress, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta also acknowledged the problem, calling it "an epidemic."
"Something's wrong," he admitted.
In September, the Army will mark Suicide Awareness month. During this month, Gen. Austin said the Army will be focusing on the need to end the stigma around suicide.
"Ultimately, we want the mindset across our force and society at large to be that behavioral health is a routine part of what we do and who we are as we strive to maintain our own physical and mental wellness," he said.
by RTT Staff Writer
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