(NBCNews) The armed forces mourned a grim toll in 2012 when more troops took their own lives than died in combat, but a precarious question remains: Why is the rate spiking when military life has long been a suicidal deterrent?

Among the services, the Army lost the most active-duty members last year to suicide: 182. Inside that branch, as two wars raged then waned, the annual suicide pace climbed. During 2001, nine out of every 100,000 active-duty soldiers killed themselves, while, during 2011, the suicide rate was nearly 23 per 100,000, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Compare that sobering trend to conflicts and peacetimes past. During the final three years of World War II, the Army’s annual suicide rate didn’t budge above 10 soldiers per 100,000, and during the Korean War in the early 1950s, that annual pace remained at about 11 soldiers per 100,000, according to a study published in 1985 by the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.

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