Army on track to surpass 2008 suicide numbers

(MILITARY TIMES)   As many as 12 soldiers killed themselves in July, the Army announced today, and the service remains on course to setting a record for suicides in a single year.

Of the 12 deaths, eight were active-duty soldiers and four were National Guard or Army Reserve soldiers who were not on active duty at the time of their deaths.

All 12 deaths are possible suicides and remain under investigation.

Typically, about 90 percent of these investigations are ruled suicides, Army officials have said.

In June, there were 13 confirmed or possible suicides; nine were active-duty soldiers and four were soldiers who were not on active duty. As of Aug. 13, four of those 13 deaths had been confirmed as suicides.

Between Jan. 1 and July 31, there have been 96 reported active-duty suicides. Of those, 62 have been confirmed as suicides and 34 are still under investigation.

There were 79 suicides among active-duty soldiers for the same period in 2008.

Among soldiers who were not on active duty, there have been 17 confirmed and 28 possible suicides so far this year. During the same period last year, there were 32 suicides among reserve component soldiers who were not on active duty.

The Army reported 140 suicides in 2008 and is on track to surpass that number this year.

To reverse the increase in soldier suicides, the Army has implemented a number of programs and put Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli in charge of the service’s suicide prevention efforts.

Among those efforts, which included a service-wide stand down and a series of chain-teaching sessions, is a $50 million, five-year study on suicide conducted in conjunction with the National Institute of Mental Health.

In addition, the Army’s Suicide Prevention Task Force has put in place a number of improvements to the army’s health promotion, risk reduction and suicide prevention programs. They include major revisions to the Army’s health promotion policy and augmenting behavioral health staff at many installations to enhance access to counseling services for soldiers and families.

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