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Suspected Suicides Down Among Active Duty Soldiers

From a Defense Department News Release

WASHINGTON, April 14, 2010 - The number of suspected suicides among soldiers serving on active duty dropped slightly for the first quarter of the year compared to the same period last year, according to information Army officials released today. Suspected suicides among soldiers on active duty were down to 39 for the first quarter of this calendar year from 53 last year. But the number of suspected suicides among soldiers not on active duty was up this year to 32, from 23 over the first three months of last year. Thirteen soldiers died from suspected suicides last month 11 on active duty and one each in the National Guard and Army Reserve compared to 14 in February.

Of the March active-duty deaths, one has been confirmed as suicide and 12 remain under investigation. Of the February active-duty deaths, two are confirmed suicides and 12 remain under investigation.

Among reserve-component soldiers not on active duty, there were eight potential suicides in March, all in the National Guard. None of the cases has been confirmed, and all remain under investigation.

Among that same group in February, there were eight potential suicides six in the National Guard, two in Army Reserve. Of those, five were confirmed as suicides and three are still being investigated.

The Army, in partnership with the National Institute of Mental Health and civilian research institutions, is preparing to launch several large, representative surveys of soldiers as a major component of a five-year study, Col. Chris Philbrick, director of the Army Suicide Prevention Task Force, said today.

"The goal of the study is to provide the tools and information that will not only help the Army mitigate suicides and suicidal behavior, but will help our country address the problem of suicide among all Americans," Philbrick said.

The task force is completing a review of more than 600 programs related to suicide prevention, Philbrick said. The Army intends to refine programs and focus on those that provide commanders the best tools to address behavioral health concerns.

Moreover, Philbrick said, the Army recently established the Specialized Suicide Augmentation Response Team to help commanders with local problems regarding suicides. "This is a team of experts that can be dispatched to augment local command response to an increase [in suicides], identify gaps in policies and procedures, and offer recommendations for improvement."

Soldiers and families in need of crisis assistance can contact Military OneSource or the Defense Center of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury Outreach Center. Trained consultants are available 24 hours per day, seven days per week, every day of the year.

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