January 28, 2013
Soldier Suicides Hit a Record High as Churches Reshape Ministries
(UPDATED) Deaths attributed to suicide surpassed the number of service members killed in combat in Afghanistan in 2012.
Update (Feb. 1): A new study from the Department of Veterans' Affairs suggests that suicides by veterans have increased 20 percent since a 2007 study, now numbering about 22 suicides per day. But the lead researcher says this does not represent an epidemic, according to the Washington Post.
New data from the Pentagon reveals a record number of soldiers committed suicide last year—amounting to almost one every day.
The Associated Press first reported that the 349 service member deaths attributed to suicide in 2012 is the "highest since the Pentagon began closely tracking suicides in 2001," even surpassing the number of service members who died in combat in Afghanistan this past year. By comparison, there were 301 reported military suicides in 2011.
This record amount "coincides with a bevy of new initiatives and programs within the military aimed to stem the epidemic," according to NBC. These programs include counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for soldiers and a new crisis hotline for soldiers dealing with a mental-health emergency.
CT has reported how churches are coming to the defense of veterans with PTSD ("when the war never ends"), as well as how church leaders are reshaping ministry for 1 million returning veterans. For Veterans' Day 2012, which fell on a Sunday, CT featured an op-ed on how to treat veterans in church (hint: don't make them stand up).