U.S. Soldiers assigned to 731st Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, 4th Advise and Assist Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division oversee Iraqi Police officers searching for debris from an explosion during a training exercise at Ramadi, Iraq, April 13, 2011. The Iraqi soldiers were trained as part of Operation New Dawn. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Brian Chaney/Not Released)

Time Magazine writes:

New Pentagon data show U.S. troops are killing themselves at the rate of nearly one a day so far in 2012, 18% above 2011′s corresponding toll. ”The continual rise in the suicide rate has frustrated all in the military,” says Elspeth “Cam” Ritchie, a retired Army colonel and chief psychiatric adviser to the Army surgeon general. “The rise in the suicide rate continues despite numerous recommendations from the Army and DoD task forces.”

There were 154 U.S. military suicides in the first 155 days of 2012, the Associated Press reports, compared to 130 over the same period last year. That’s 50% more than those killed in action in Afghanistan, and the highest suicide toll in the U.S. military since 9/11. Press writes:

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.

The reasons for the increase are not fully understood. Among explanations, studies have pointed to combat exposure, post-traumatic stress, misuse of prescription medications and personal financial problems. Army data suggest soldiers with multiple combat tours are at greater risk of committing suicide, although a substantial proportion of Army suicides are committed by soldiers who never deployed.

Up Next

Defense Department Stops Issuing Free Guns to Police

U.S. Soldiers assigned to 731st Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, 4th Advise and Assist Brigade, 3rd…