Army suicides hit record in July

Friday, August 12, 2011
By Paul Martin

By Greg Jaffe
WashingtonPost.com
08/12/2011

The U.S. Army suffered a record 32 suicides in July, the most since it began releasing monthly figures in 2009.

The high number of deaths represents a setback for the Army, which has put a heavy focus on reducing suicides in recent years. The number includes 22 active duty soldiers and 10 reservists. The previous record was 31, from June 2010.

Army officials cautioned that investigations are still underway in most of the deaths to confirm the exact cause.

“Every suicide represents a tragic loss,” Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, the vice chief of staff of the Army said in a written statement. “While the high number of potential suicides in July is discouraging, we are confident our efforts …are having a positive impact.”

Over the last several years, the Army has launched a major effort to institute new training to improve soldiers’ ability to bounce back from stress and setbacks in combat and in their personal lives. It has hired hundreds of mental health and substance abuse counselors and has launched a push to convince soldiers that seeking help for mental health problems will not have a negative impact on their careers.

The service also has tapped the National Institute of Mental Health to conduct a five-year $50 million study and statistical analysis of suicide in the Army, an effort that includes surveys, data mining and medical testing.

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