By Julian Pecquet - 10/12/10 08:15 PM EDT
Pressure is growing for the White House to reverse the military policy that prohibits the president from sending condolence letters to family members of military personnel who have committed suicide.
The American Psychiatric Association on Tuesday joined Mental Health America and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in asking for a reversal of the policy. These last two are gathering signatures on petitions in an attempt to overturn the policy.
Service members who commit suicide do receive full military honors.
"The contributions of these men and women to their country are not less for having suffered a mental illness," APA President Carol Bernstein said in a statement. "A reversal of this policy ... will not only help to honor the contributions and lives of the service men and women, but will also send a message that discriminating against those with mental illness is not acceptable."
The issue is gaining prominence as the Department of Defense copes with a growing trend in suicides. This year is on track to surpass last year's record of 162 suicides.
The Army says repeated deployments aren't solely to blame, according to Sunday's New York Times, since only about 80 percent of those who commit suicide have been deployed once or never. One growing problem is that a military stretched thin by years of wars is attracting more people who are prone to risky behaviors and suicide.