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125 Soldier Suicides This Year

Twenty soldiers with ties to Fort Hood have killed themselves this year—four of them in a single September week. 2010 has been the worst year for soldier suicides at the massive Texas base since 2003, when the military started keeping track. The Army revamped its suicide prevention program 20 months ago, but despite far more aggressive tactics, self-inflicted deaths remain high. By the end of August, 125 service members on active duty had killed themselves, a higher rate than in 2009, when 162 committed suicide. More soldiers than ever are seeking psychological care, but with nine years of repeated deployments, more than ever need those services. After almost a decade of war, the military is attracting people more prone to risky behavior, and the military still says that war alone is not the cause of suicide—that family and financial problems are to blame. Most soldiers who killed themselves had only one deployment or never deployed. Even so, the Army is short staffed on therapists and psychiatrists, even though it has 66 percent more than it did in 2007. That means many soldiers are given antidepressants and other drugs instead of getting counseling.