PAULINE JELINEK and KIMBERLY HEFLING
Thursday, Jan 29, 2009
Stressed by war and long overseas tours, U.S. soldiers killed themselves last year at the highest rate on record, the toll rising for a fourth straight year and even surpassing the suicide rate among comparable civilians. Army leaders said they were doing everything they could think of to curb the deaths and appealed for more mental health professionals to join and help out.
At least 128 soldiers committed suicide in 2008, the Army said Thursday. And the final count is likely to be even higher because 15 more suspicious deaths are still being investigated.
“Why do the numbers keep going up? We cannot tell you,” said Army Secretary Pete Geren. “We can tell you that across the Army we’re committed to doing everything we can to address the problem.”
It’s all about pressure and the military approach, said Kim Ruocco, 45, whose Marine husband was an officer and Cobra helicopter pilot who hanged himself in a California hotel room in 2005. That was one month before he was to return to Iraq a second time.