In 2012, the number of suicides committed within the US military surpassed the number of combat deaths. Last year 349 US military personnel died from suicide, as oppose to around 295 who were killed in combat operations. Of the 349, 182 were from the Army. Most of them are between the ages of 18 to 24. While most of these deaths can be linked to the post-traumatic stress of being in a war zone, about a third of them were of personnel who had never been sent overseas. They took their lives out of despair over personal or financial problems.
Kim Ruocco, who directs a suicide prevention program for Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, called the period of transition for a military service member from being in a war zone to civilian life, “the danger zone, when they’re transitioning back to their families, back to their communities and really finding a sense of purpose for themselves.”
The Defense Department is implementing programs in an effort to counter the wave of suicides.
“Our most valuable resource within the department is our people,” Pentagon spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said on Monday.
“We are committed to taking care of our people, and that includes doing everything possible to prevent suicides in the military.”
Washington Senator Patty Murray introduced legislation to address military suicide that included providing counseling to returning service members from veterans who have made the successful transition to civilian life. It was signed into law on January 3.