Army suicides for 2012 surpass last year's numbers

By LOLITA C. BALDOR

WASHINGTON (AP) — Ten months into 2012, the number of suspected suicides by active-duty soldiers has surpassed last year's total, even as the Pentagon struggles to stem the persistent problem.

The Army says there were 20 possible suicides in October, bringing the total for the year to 166 — one more than the total for 2011. The 20 suspected soldier suicides in October is also a spike, compared to 15 in September.

Army officials have been worried about the pace of suicides this year and were concerned the numbers would surge higher than last year despite efforts to increase programs and outreach.

Military leaders have wrestled with ways to identify triggers for suicides. While it has been linked to combat stress, many of the suicide victims are soldiers who have never deployed.

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