Joint Chiefs chairman: Army suicides to hit record

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, on Tuesday predicted that the Army will see a record number of suicides this year.

"The early statistics this year in the Army indicate that there are going to be more suicides this year than last, and last year was a record year," Mullen said at a breakfast sponsored by The Hill.

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"The suicide rate is exceptionally high," Mullen said, adding that the rate is up in all the military services, not just the Army. While he said that there is no "analytic data" yet showing that there is an "overwhelming correlation" between the stress of the military forces with multiple deployments to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he "just can't believe that it is not very much related."

In the Army alone, there were 133 suicides in 2008 and six months through 2009 the Army is contending with 64 confirmed suicides. Fort Campbell, Ky., alone has had 11 suicides this year, making it the Army's installation dealing with most suicides. Fort Campbell is the home of the 101st Airborne Division and has roughly 20,000 troops stationed there.

Mullen said the military faced a "severe" shortage in mental health professionals and that Pentagon leaders are pressing to fill those gaps.