Suicides in the US army are set to hit a new high this year, according to a top American general.
The number of active-duty soldiers to take their own lives in 2009 has already matched the 2008 record of a 140 deaths. The latest figures, together with the recent shooting rampage at Fort Hood military base in Texas, have raised questions about combat stress and the mental health of forces stretched to their limits in Iraq and Afghanistan. US Army Vice Chief of Staff General Peter Chiarelli said: ‘‘This is horrible, and I don’t want to downplay the significance of these numbers in any way. We talk about these incidents of suicide using figures and percentages. However, the grim reality is each case represents an individual, a person.’‘ The US army has been keen to stress it’s not near crisis point. However, the rate of suicides is a major worry, particularly as President Obama mulls over whether to send up to 40,000 extra troops to Afghanistan.