Record year of suicides at Lewis-McChord base

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JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. (AP) — Joint Base Lewis-McChord saw more suicides in 2011 than any previous year.

The Tacoma News Tribune reports that (http://bit.ly/uLSTPU) 12 suicides were recorded at the base this past year. That’s up from nine in 2010 and nine in 2009.

Army I Corps spokesman Lt. Col. Gary Dangerfield says the total could grow as the Army completes investigations ahead of its annual suicide report next month.

The toll at Lewis-McChord rose despite new efforts to counsel soldiers when they come home from war, including the creation of a suicide-prevention office.

Lewis-McChord’s surge in suicides followed its busiest year of combat deployments. More than 18,000 soldiers from the base served in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2009-10.

The base is also larger than ever, with some 34,000 soldiers stationed there, up from 19,000 before the war in Iraq started.

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Information from: The News Tribune, http://www.thenewstribune.com