Panetta urges greater emphasis on mental health
WASHINGTON – In confronting a surge of suicides within the military, commanding officers must make it understood that seeking help for the stresses of war should be seen as a sign of strength rather than as a sign of weakness, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Friday.
Panetta said the end of the war in Iraq and the beginning of a drawdown in Afghanistan should ease some of the strain on the nation's troops, but it will not solve the problem of military suicides. He noted that more than half of the military members who committed suicide have no history of deployment.
Pentagon statistics obtained by The Associated Press earlier this month indicated that suicides have spiked this year to about one per day, a 50 percent increase over the same period in 2011 and higher than the rate of combat deaths.
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