An analysis released by the Pentagon on Wednesday revealed that the most common cause of death among U.S. troops after combat is suicide.
Suicides outranked such causes of death as traffic accidents, heart disease, and homicide among members of the U.S. military, outside of combat. The report indicated further that one in four non-combat deaths last year was due to suicide.
The USA Today reported that according to figures from the Pentagon, an average of one suicide occurs daily among troops. The same data, which was first reported by the Associated Press, also showed that suicides have become more common than death in combat after the Iraq War.
Data from the Pentagon indicated that there were 154 confirmed or suspected suicides so far this year, as of June 3. On the other hand, 127 troops died in the Afghan War.
Speaking before Congress on Wednesday, June 13, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said that he has issued directions to all four branches of the military “to immediately look at that situation and determine what’s behind it, what’s causing it and what can we do to make sure it doesn’t happen.”
Army Col. Carl Castro, who leads a team of researchers working towards formulating effective forms of prevention and treatment of suicides, said: “We were slow to react (at first) because we weren’t sure if it was an anomaly or it was a real trend… Then it just takes time to program the money and get the studies up and going.”