Disorder in the ranks?

DURHAM According to the military, at least 128 soldiers killed themselves in 2008, and it's likely that count will go higher because more than a dozen deaths are still under investigation and haven't been classified as suicides. 115 died in 2007 and 102 in 2006.

The new number is the highest it's been since record keeping began in 1980. The figure calculates to roughly 20 deaths per 100,000 soldiers, and is higher than the civilian suicide rate.

Military officials blame the suicides on the unprecedented stress put on today's Army. Many soldiers have been repeatedly deployed overseas for dangerous tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. They're away from family and friends for months, even years at a time.

The Army has tried to combat the problem with increased training, prevention programs, increased psychiatric staff, and other efforts, but it's been unsuccessful. Officials announced new prevention initiatives at a news conference Thursday.

"We need to move quickly to do everything we can to reverse this disturbing ... number," Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli said.

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