Suicides increase sharply in Army Guard, Reserves

Thursday - 1/20/2011, 2:54pm EST

The latest statistics on soldier suicides have not been good.

Army Vice Chief of Staff General Peter Chiarelli says that in 2010 the Army saw 343 suicides - 69 more than in 2009. That includes soldiers, Army civilians, and their family members.

There was a modest reduction in the number of suicides among soldiers serving on active duty. But Chiarelli says there was a significant spike in the number of suicides among soldiers not serving on active duty and a doubling of the number in the Army National Guard. The number of Guard and Reserve troops who killed themselves while not on active duty jumped to 145. That's up from 80 the previous year.

Officials give some credit to new risk reduction programs - and other policy changes - for the modest decrease among soldiers serving on active duty.

Chiarelli says he has high hopes for a relatively new service-wide Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program. It focuses on improving soldiers' resiliency.

He says the reality is it's easier to offer help to soldiers serving on active duty. Part of the military's strategy moving forward will be to extend the success it has had to inactive troops.

This story is part of Federal News Radio's daily DoD Report. For more defense news, click here.