According to Army statistics, the incidence of U.S. Army soldiers attempting suicide or inflicting injuries on themselves has skyrocketed in the nearly five years since the start of the Iraq war.
Last year's 2,100 attempted suicides -- an average of more than 5 per day -- compares with about 350 suicide attempts in 2002, the year before the war in Iraq began, according to the Army.
The figures also show the number of suicides by active-duty troops in 2007 may reach an all-time high when the statistics are finalized in March, Army officials said.
The Army lists 89 soldier deaths in 2007 as suicides and is investigating 32 more as possible suicides. Suicide rates already were up in 2006 with 102 deaths, compared with 87 in 2005.
More later...but Senator Jim Webb is sponsoring legislation that will start to address these issues. We'll have more this week.
UPDATE I - PALE RIDER
Here's the info from Senator Webb's website:
Webb Calls for Stronger Suicide Prevention Programs in Defense Department
"Armed Forces Suicide Prevention Act" One of Many Webb-Supported Measures to Address Troop Welfare
Washington, DC- With new reports this week showing a steady rise in U.S. Army suicides among its active-duty personnel since the invasion of Iraq, Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) and several of his colleagues introduced a bill that would direct the Department of Defense to enhance its suicide-prevention programs. The legislation, Webb said, “places greater emphasis on the well-being and welfare of our troops.”
The “Armed Forces Suicide Prevention Act” mandates an evaluation and enhancement of the military’s suicide prevention programs to ensure that they address the combat stress faced by troops today. The bill also establishes an outreach campaign to soldiers and families to reduce the stigma associated with mental health problems and to encourage those needing help to seek it.