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US military suicides will hit new high in 2009

A US general says that suicides in the US military will rise to a new high this year.

“We are almost certainly going to end the year higher than last year,” General Peter Chiarelli, the Army’s vice chief of staff, told a Pentagon briefing. “This is horrible, and I do not want to downplay the significance of these numbers in any way.”

Chiarelli said the causes of the suicides were still unclear and noted that roughly a third of the soldiers who took their own lives had never been deployed abroad.

The US Army recently announced that about one in five low-ranking soldiers suffer from mental health problems like depression.

Earlier in November, an army doctor — identified as 39-year-old Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, who had treated soldiers wounded in foreign wars — opened fire at the Fort Hood military base in Texas, killing 12 people before being shot and wounded. Thirty-one people were also injured.

US President Barack Obama called the incident ‘a horrific outburst of violence.’

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