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Obama On Army Suicide Rates: 'Serve Troops Well'

Armen Hareyan's picture

More soldiers and veterans are committing suicide and their mental health is not always getting appropriate attention from doctors, shows the report. Barack Obama reacted on the mental health care of the soldiers and says more needs to be done.

The 144-page Army Suicide Event Report released yesterday said 115 soldiers took their lives in calendar year 2007, the highest number of suicides since record-keeping began in 1980, according to officials. Five of the deceased were female soldiers. Ninety-three of the departed soldiers were active-duty troops, and 22 were either in the National Guard or Army Reserve.

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The majority of the suicide cases last year did not have a known history of a mental disorder, according to Army documents. The increases in suicides come despite a host of efforts to improve the mental health of a force stressed by the long and repeated tours of duty, which includes various training programs and help for the soldiers to recognize mental health problems in themselves and their buddies. "Officials also approved the hiring of more than 300 additional psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health professionals and have so far hired 180 of them. They also have added more screening to measure the mental health of troops," reports AP.

Barack Obama released a statement on the Army report that suicide rates among veterans is on the rise, which is found on his campaign website.

"Today's news is a tragic reminder of the staggering and ongoing costs of the Iraq war, particularly on our troops and their families. We are more than five years into this war, and the Pentagon and VA are still unprepared to treat the unseen wounds of battle. We know that incidence of psychological injury increase with each additional tour of duty in Iraq, and that our troops are not getting the support they need.

"Too many are falling through the cracks because they need help but feel they can't get it. When I am President, we'll hire more mental health professionals, increase training to recognize the signs and to reject the stigma of seeking care, and enhance mental health screening and treatment from enlistment, to deployment, to reentry into civilian life.