[YSPNetwork] Fwd: FYI: Army Reports Sharp Rise in Suicides in January
Donna.Noonan at state.or.us
Thu Feb 5 14:17:19 PST 2009
FYI,Army Reports Sharp Rise in Suicides in January
WASHINGTON -- The Army is investigating an unusually high number of
suicides in January, a count that could surpass all combat deaths on
America's two war fronts last month.
There were 24 suspected suicides in January, compared with five in
January of 2008, six in January of 2007 and 10 in January of 2006,
according to figures obtained by the Associated Press.
Yearly suicides have been rising steadily since 2004 amid increasing
stress on the force from long and repeated tours of duty in Iraq and
The service has rarely, if ever, released a month-by-month update on
suicides, but officials said Thursday that they wanted to re-emphasize
"the urgency and seriousness necessary for preventive action at all
levels" of the force.
Army leadership also took the unusual step of briefing congressional
leaders on the information Thursday morning.
The big monthly count follows an annual report last week showing that
soldiers killed themselves at the highest rate on record in 2008. The
toll for all of last year -- 128 confirmed and 15 pending investigation
-- was an increase for the fourth straight year and surpassed the
suicide rate among civilians.
"The trend and trajectory seen in January further heightens the
seriousness and urgency that all of us must have in preventing
suicides," Gen. Peter Chiarelli, Army vice chief of staff, said
The 24 suspected January suicides include seven confirmed and 17 still
being investigated. The vast majority of suspected suicides are
eventually confirmed. If that holds true, it would mean that
self-inflicted deaths surpassed the 16 combat deaths reported in all
branches of the armed forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and other nations
considered part of the global war on terror last month.
In announcing the 2008 figures last week, the Army said it would hold
special training from Feb. 15 to March 15 to help troops recognize
suicidal behaviors and to intervene if they see such behavior in a
buddy. After that, the Army also plans a suicide-prevention program for
Yearly increases in suicides have been recorded since 2004, when there
were 64. Officials said they found that the most common factors were
soldiers suffering problems with their personal relationships, legal or
financial issues and problems on the job.
But Army Secretary Pete Geren acknowledged last week that officials
have been stumped by the spiraling cases.
"Why do the numbers keep going up? We cannot tell you," Mr. Geren said
at a Pentagon press conference last week. "We can tell you that across
the Army we're committed to doing everything we can to address the
Copyright * 2009 Associated Press
Donna G. Noonan, MPH, CHES
Youth Suicide Prevention Coordinator
Injury Prevention & Epidemiology Program
Oregon Public Health Division
800 NE Oregon, Ste 772
Portland, OR 97232
donna.noonan at state.or.us
Join YSPNetwork, Youth Suicide Prevention listserv for the Pacific
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