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Issue of Military Suicides Continues to Raise Concern

Army officials said Thursday that suicides among troops are at their highest level in decades. In 2008, the Army suicide rate surpassed the civilian rate for the first time since the Vietnam War. In this encore report, Betty Ann Bowser examines the problem of veteran suicides.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    The Army today said 128 soldiers committed suicide in 2008, the highest number since the Army began keeping records in 1980. Fifteen more deaths were still being investigated as possible suicides.

    The Army said its suicide rate of more than 20 suicides per 100,000 troops is now higher than the adjusted civilian rate for the first time since the Vietnam War. A new training and prevention effort will start next week, and the secretary of the army briefed reporters on that today.

    PETE GEREN, secretary of the Army: This is a challenge of the highest order for us as an Army. And we are doing everything we can to address it. Every one of us takes every one of these deaths personally.

    And our commitment is, we're going to do everything we can. We're not going to stop until we don't have any suicides in our Army. And the resolve that we feel to attack this problem would be the same if it's 120, or 110, or 100, or 90, or 80. We take every one personally.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Last November, Betty Ann Bowser reported on veteran suicide for our Health Unit. In light of today's news, here's a second look at that.

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