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Suicide numbers among U.S. troops is at an all-time high

As the war in Afghanistan draws to a close, the aftereffects of a decade-plus of violence for American troops is becoming evident in the rising suicide rate among soldiers.

According to the Christian Science Monitor, an average of 950 veterans who were receiving care from the Department of Veterans Affairs attempted suicide every month between October 2008 and December 2010.

This July, 38 soldiers committed suicide, which is the most self-caused deaths the military has seen in a one-month period. Reuters reports that Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has expressed concern over the recent trend. Panetta called the pattern an “epidemic” and says that the mental fitness of soldiers is just as important as their physical fitness.

The suicide rate for veterans is higher than those on active duty and by 2017, almost one million troops will leave the military. The sheer number of troops who will leave the military in the next few years will place a strain on the Department of Veterans Affairs, which Panetta claims is already overworked.

Fox News reports that the Indiana University School of Medicine is in the process of developing a nasal spray that will help prevent suicidal thoughts in patients. They are working with a neurochemical that has anti-depressant and anti-suicidal effects.