Changes in the Army Appear to Impact Suicide Rate

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT)-- A year after major changes were made to how the US Army handles suicide among active duty service members, a dramatic drop in suicide rates for 2013 is reported.

According to a report in USA Today Friday suicides in the Army fell by nearly 20% in 2013. There were 150 suicides among soldiers on active-duty status last year, down from a record 185 in 2012, according to Army data. The numbers include both confirmed and suspected suicides.

Bill Koch with Still Serving Veterans in Huntsville says the decrease is a step in the right direction.

"Even one suicide is a travesty, but these numbers are a very good sign that the Army, and the military as a whole is taking this issue seriously and working hard to fix it," Koch told WHNT News 19 Friday.

In the last few years the Army has beefed up behavioral health counseling, and changed the reporting procedures making it easier for soldiers to get help.

The Army has also spent tens of millions of dollars in a long-term study of suicide, teaming with the National Institutes of Health, and has developed a comprehensive program of instilling emotional resilience in soldiers, according to the report in USA Today.

"This is something all of us have to work on but locally there is a lot of places for soldiers and veterans just back from Iraq and Afghanistan to go to find help," Koch added.

Even as these deaths among active-duty soldiers declined last year, deaths among those on inactive status — members of the National Guard or reserve who were not called into active duty — remained at record levels.


  • Skillpot

    Why are we having so many suicides, starting with NAM vets, forward? Seems we did not have this problem with vets in WWI, WWII, Korea(me there). Could it be the result of defunct marriage relationships, and the mental thought that spreads like a virus?

    I was in combat, in Korea, and my two older brothers were in combat, oldest being in Korea, and NAM, and my next oldest sibling was in NAM combat. Just that my oldest brother, being in Korea, and NAM, has had a problem, following NAM, which I believe had to do with an un-fateful wife left behind!

  • Leoden

    Many Soldiers that commit suicide are single soldiers living in barracks. Where a cheating wife would have a great impact of their state of mind, its not the core issue. I think many soldiers feel lost. When they have poor leadership that feeling is intensified. They are held to a high standard and when they aren’t meeting that standard or are not included along with the core group because of PT, height and weight, overall intelligence level, they resort to killing themselves.

    Most people that join the military didn’t join to defend freedom. They joined because they would otherwise starve. They had a bad home life or their parents physically abused them. Not all are that way, but most.

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