There was a sharp increase in U.S. soldier suicides in January, with seven confirmed and 17 suspected suicides, Army officials said Thursday.
If all 24 cases are confirmed as suicide, the toll would be greater than the number of U.S. troops killed in action in January in both Iraq (four deaths) and Afghanistan (12 deaths), Agence France Presse reported.
Last week, the Army revealed that suicides among active duty soldiers reached a record high in 2008 for the second year in a row. There were as many as 143 suicides last year and 115 in 2007.
"The trend and trajectory seen in January further heightens the seriousness and urgency that all of us must have in preventing suicides," Gen. Peter Chiarelli, Army vice chief of staff, said in a statement, AFP reported.
Last week, Chiarelli said special army-wide training sessions to boost suicide awareness among soldiers and their leaders would begin Feb. 15.