Soldier Suicides Claimed More Troops In 2012 Than Combat Deaths

US soldier suicides hit a sad milestone in 2012, outpacing combat deaths as the leading cause of death for American troops.

The tragic number of soldier suicides comes from the Department of the Army, and seem to continue last year’s trend of increasing soldier suicides in US military personnel.

According to data reviewed by CBS, 303 active-duty, Reserve and National Guard soldiers took their own lives through November in the US, versus 212 combat deaths recorded in Afghanistan.

Due the the often-unclear nature of self-inflicted mortal injury, the data reviewed is not entirely clear on precise numbers — but CBS says:

“The Army set a grim new record of 177 potential active-duty cases with 2012 coming to a close on Tuesday – 64 of these cases remain under investigation, 113 have been confirmed.”

In 2011, a record number of soldier suicides were observed as well, and in June, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta addressed the worrying trend and indicated that some of the issues troops face upon their return could be mitigating factors in the increase in suicide:

” … we’re dealing with broader societal issues … Substance abuse, financial distress and relationship problems — the risk factors for suicide — also reflect problems … that will endure beyond war.”

Pictured: US troops in Afghanistan

Stars And Stripes reports that lawmakers have begun to address soldier suicide, adding that gun rights groups oppose the measure:

“A bipartisan group of 36 lawmakers is pushing for new rules allowing military commanders and mental health specialists to ask unstable troops whether they own any personal firearms; lawmakers from both the House and the Senate are working on a final compromise version of the legislation.”

According to the military-centric site, soldier suicides increased in 2012 despite increased awareness of the growing issue.