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WASHINGTON — In July, 38 soldiers, including 26 active-duty soldiers, are believed to have killed themselves, the Army said Thursday, setting what appears to be a grim record as the military struggles to address increasing numbers of suicides.

The number is the highest monthly number since the Army began keeping detailed records in 2009, and a significant jump from the 24 potential suicides in June. So far this year, 187 soldiers, 116 of them active duty, are believed to have died by suicide.

The Army had 283 confirmed suicides in 2011.

“Suicide is the toughest enemy I have faced in my 37 years in the Army,” Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, vice chief of staff of the Army said in a statement. “Ultimately, we want the mindset across our force and society at large to be that behavioral health is a routine part of what we do and who we are as we strive to maintain our own physical and mental wellness.”

Of the 26 potential active-duty Army suicides in July, only one has been confirmed. One of the 12 potential suicides among Army National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers has also been confirmed. The rest remain under investigation.

At least 10 people are impacted by each death, the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors said in a statement Thursday afternoon.

"We are deeply saddened by these numbers, and renew our commitment to support the families left behind who are grieving the death of soldiers by suicide," the statement said.

"When a soldier is in distress, we owe him or her an immediate and comprehensive response," TAPS said in the statement. "We must continue to look at how our leaders talk about mental health, how we are talking about illness and injury, and how we can provide hope for those who need treatment.

September is suicide prevention month.

hladj@stripes.osd.milTwitter: @jhlad


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