The US Army announces that there were 18 suspected suicides in February after an alarming increase in soldier suicides in January.
“It’s a very high number, it’s very disturbing,” Col. Thomas Languirand, head of the Army suicide prevention program, said Thursday.
“We’re taking every effort we can think of” to try to bring it down, he added.
The spike continues a four-year rise in an Army under stress from costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Army normally releases figures on self-inflicted deaths only once a year.
The large number of 24 suspected in January caused officials to announce suicides monthly to focus attention on the problem and on prevention programs available.
Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli said there were two confirmed suicides in February and 16 suspected but still being investigated.
In February 2008, 11 soldiers committed suicide.
The vast majority of suspected suicides are eventually confirmed, but the investigations can take months, AP reported.
When January figures were first released last month, officials said there were seven confirmed and 17 pending, a figure updated Thursday to 12 confirmed and 12 pending.