Washington: The number of US military personnel who committed suicide surged to a record 349 in 2012, far exceeding American combat deaths in Afghanistan.
The Pentagon has struggled to deal with the suicides, which Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and others having calling it an epidemic.
The problem reflects severe strains on military personnel burdened with more than a decade of combat in Afghanistan and Iraq, complicated by anxiety over the prospect of being forced out of a shrinking force, CBS News reports.
Pentagon figures show that the 349 suicides among active-duty troops last year were up from 301 the year before and exceeded the Pentagon’s own internal projection of 325, the report said.
Military suicides began rising in 2006 and soared to a then-record 310 in 2009 before leveling off for two years, it added.
According to the report, the Army, by far the largest of the military services, had the highest number of suicides among active-duty troops last year at 182, but the Marine Corps, whose suicide numbers had declined for two years, had the largest percentage increase — a 50 percent jump to 48.