The number of American soldiers who committed suicide increased again in 2008, reaching almost a three-decade high, according to military officials.
They told the Associated Press that at least 128 soldiers killed themselves in 2008, but also said the final count is expected to be higher because more than a dozen other suspicious deaths are still being investigated.
There were 115 suicides among U.S. soldiers in 2007, 102 in 2006, and 64 in 2004. The 2008 figure of 128 is the highest since record-keeping began in 1980 and works out to a rate of 20.2 per 100,000 soldiers. That means the suicide rate among soldiers is higher than the adjusted civilian rate for the first time since the Vietnam War, the AP reported.
The military officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the data will be formally released at an Army news conference later Thursday.
Repeated and long tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan are putting troops under tremendous and unprecedented stress, officials say. In an attempt to halt the rise in suicides, the Army has increased training, prevention programs, and psychiatric staff, the AP reporte