Cleaveland: Battle stress stalks troops

Dr. Cliff Cleaveland

Commentary

In 2009 more U.S. soldiers died of high-risk behaviors than died in combat. That is the sad conclusion of a report issued by the Army on July 29. The 200-plus-page report may be accessed at www.army.mil/hprrsp. The fatalities included 160 men and women who committed suicide. The rate of suicide among soldiers exceeds that of the civilian population.

While civilian suicides have leveled off in recent years, military suicides have steadily increased: 119 in 2007, 128 in 2008. The suicide rate among Marines is slightly higher.

The report further documents more than 1,700 attempted suicides and 146 deaths from other "high-risk behaviors" during 2009. Such behavior includes drug overdosage, violence and fatal accidents where intoxication is involved.

For the first six months of 2010, 120 soldiers have taken their lives.

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