JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Staggering new numbers about the military and suicide.
In the month of July, Army soldiers committed suicide at more than one per day, the highest one-month tally in recent Army history.
"The rate has jumped up so much in the past year that it now exceeds the number of soldiers who are dying in combat over in the war," said Jim Adams with the Allied Veterans Center in Jacksonville.
"One night he just got in his dress uniform, came down, got in his rack, took a gun and shot himself," recalled Michael Ellis.
Ellis is a cook at the Allied Veterans Center in Jacksonville.
It's a job he loves; the same job he did for 24 years on a Naval submarine community.
Through the experience he met many people.
"Some were really great," Ellis said. "Some had some issues. Some even committed suicide."
Over 30 years later, the tragedy of a suicide on his own submarine is still vivid.
"You knew that guy and you see all that blood and you know it's his blood," Ellis said. "You see the mattress and you have to carry it off and there's more blood to clean up. Sometimes the blood stains just don't go away."
It happened when Ellis was just 20.
"The rate has jumped up so much in the past year that it now exceeds the number of soldiers who are dying in combat over in the war," Adams said.
Adams said the center has several residents who suffer from PTSD, putting them at a greater risk of committing suicide.
"But we're not the only ones seeing this," Adams said. "The U.S. Army recently awarded The University of Denver and Florida State University over $17 million to study suicide among military and veteran soldiers."
"A lot of people in a lot of places see mental health issues as a weakness," said Samantha Shine, a case manager at Allied Veterans.
Shine believes a big problem is the stigma attached with seeking help for mental health issues.
"It should be more open in terms of acknowledging those and seeking help instead of stigmatizing people who seek it," Shine said.
Experts say the reasons behind suicide in the military are more likely to be family related than problems at work.
First Coast News