Military suicide rate surges to nearly one per day in 2012

Afghanistan-Pakistan border crossing
A U.S. Army guard watches over the border crossing between Afghanistan and Pakistan August 27, 2011 at Torkham, Afghanistan.
Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

The Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs are holding their annual Suicide Prevention Conference Wednesday. The conference comes after the recent news that the military suicide rate has surged to nearly one per day this year.

More from Robert Burns of the Associated Press:

The 154 suicides for active-duty troops in the first 155 days of the year far outdistance the U.S. forces killed in action in Afghanistan -- about 50 percent more -- according to Pentagon statistics obtained by The Associated Press.

The numbers reflect a military burdened with wartime demands from Iraq and Afghanistan that have taken a greater toll than foreseen a decade ago. The military also is struggling with increased sexual assaults, alcohol abuse, domestic violence and other misbehavior.

Because suicides had leveled off in 2010 and 2011, this year's upswing has caught some officials by surprise.

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Why are so many veterans committing suicide and what can be done to prevent it?

David Rudd, dean of the College of Social & Behavioral Science and scientific director at the National Center for Veteran Studies at the University of Utah, joined The Daily Circuit Tuesday to discuss military suicides.

"The warrior culture does not embrace psychological injury, with large percentages of those suffering opting not to pursue care," Rudd wrote for The New York Times. "The net result is an increase in personal suffering, high divorce rates, escalating numbers of service members dying by suicide, and families left to grieve tragic and unnecessary losses."

Jason Hansman, Iraq War veteran and acting membership director for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, also joined the discussion.

VIDEO: Interview with David Rudd

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