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US military suicide rate reaches 'record high of 349'

US soldiers in Afghanistan's Helmand province, in 2010. Credit: Reuters

Suicides in the US military surged to a record 349 last year, according to the Associated Press.

The number of deaths due to suicide is far higher than the 295 killed in combat in Afghanistan.

In 2011, the figure was 301. US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said the numbers revealed "an epidemic" within the armed forces.

The Army recorded 182 suicides, the Marine Corps 48, the Air Force had 59 suicides and the Navy 60.