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Military Suicide Rate Down In 2013, But Up For National Guard And Reservists

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Suicide rates for active-duty and reserve, National Guard

The latest numbers released by the Department of Defense show the overall totals and rates of military suicides declined in 2013. Preliminary numbers show 261 active duty service members took their own lives last year. In 2012, 319 active duty troops died by suicide.

Army Lt. Gen. Michael Linnington, military deputy at the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, told American Forces Press Service:

“With an 18 percent drop in 2013, something is going right. One suicide is always too many, but we have to focus our efforts now where we think they are most needed.”

In response to years of skyrocketing suicide rates in the U.S. military, the Pentagon has hired roughly 9,425 mental health professionals like psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and counselors.

Yet as The Associated Press points out, the number of Army National Guard soldiers and Army reservists who committed suicide actually rose in 2013:

Scattered across the United States, often in small or remote rural communities, many members of the Army National Guard and Reserve... often don’t have quick access to military medical or mental health services that may be on bases far from their homes. That means the outreach effort by the armed services to address the increase in suicides may not always get to reservists in need — particularly those who don’t actively seek help.

To better deal with this outreach gap, Army spokeswoman Lt. Col. Sunset Belinsky told the A.P. that the Army Reserve has set up six Army Strong Community Centers in states like Connecticut, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, and Pennsylvania.

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