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Majority Of Troops Who Commited Suicide Never Saw Combat

Photo by NPR

Alicia McCoy holds a photo of her husband, Sgt. Brandon McCoy. Despite taking part in basewide suicide prevention efforts at Fort Campbell in 2009, Sgt. McCoy took his own life in 2012.

The latest suicide statistics from the Department of Defense show 52 percent of troops who took their own lives between 2008 and 2011 were never deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. Roughly 34 percent who committed suicide were deployed, but didn't see combat.

The Los Angeles Times broke down the numbers provided to the paper by the Pentagon. Between 2008 and 2011, just 14 percent of the service members who had committed suicide actually saw combat.

UC San Diego psychiatrist Dr. Murray Stein told the L.A. Times:

"A lot of the risk for suicide in the military is the stuff they bring with them."

According to an L.A. Times tally, 524 U.S. service members - including active-duty, reservists, and National Guard members - committed suicide in 2012.

Even for troops who haven't seen combat, the stress involved with being in the military can trigger emotional problems in already vulnerable service members, according to Craig Bryan, research director at the University of Utah's National Center for Veterans studies:

"If these servicemembers are coming in with pre-existing vulnerabilities, it's more likely these vulnerabilities will be activated."

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