Soldiers killed themselves at a rate faster than one per day in July, the Army announced Thursday. There were 38 deaths either confirmed or suspected as suicides, the highest one-month tally in recent Army history, the service said.
The Army suicide pace this year is surpassing last year, particularly among active-duty soldiers where there is a 22% increase — 116 deaths so far this year vs. 95 during the same seven months last year, according to Army data.
The current Army suicide rate seven months into this year is 29 deaths-per-100,000, far surpassing last year's rate of about 23 deaths-per-100,000, says Bruce Shahbaz, an Army analyst. Those rates compare with a 2009 civilian rate — the latest available data — of 18.5 for a demographically similar population.
A new pattern has emerged this year with more suicides among veteran soldiers than among younger GIs, Shahbaz says.
Within the active-duty Army in 2012, there were 54 suicides among enlisted soldiers ranked sergeant or higher (not including officers ranked lieutenant or higher) compared with 46 among junior enlisted, the first time this has happened, Shahbaz says. The Army has traditionally viewed younger soldiers as the most vulnerable suicide population, but that may be changing, he says.