The Army released suicide data for April today, reporting one confirmed active-duty suicide and six potential suicides which are currently under investigation. During the same period last year there were 12 reported suicides.
For the month of March, the Army reported 13 potential active duty suicides, all of which were under investigation at the time. Since that report, three of those deaths have been confirmed as suicides. The Army has reported 64 potential active-duty suicides during 2009; 35 of those deaths have been confirmed as suicides, and 29 are pending determination of manner of death.
During 2009, among Reserve Soldiers not on active duty, there have been 12 confirmed suicides and 15 potential suicides currently under investigation to determine the manner of death. For the same period in 2008, there were 21 suicides among Reserve Soldiers not on active duty.
The Army's suicide prevention programs are designed to reach Soldiers across both the active and Reserve components. Whether a Soldier is serving in an active or Reserve status, maintaining proper mental, behavioral, and spiritual health remains a top priority for commanders and senior Army leaders.
As part of the Army's continuing response to suicide, Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli issued a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary Army Campaign Plan for Health Promotion, Risk Reduction, and Suicide Prevention. The plan, published April 24, encompasses the physical, spiritual, and mental health of Soldiers and their Families. Senior leaders at every camp, post, and station are executing tasks that maximize the effects of our Health Promotion, Risk Reduction and Suicide-related programs.
"I am personally briefed on every suicide that occurs in the Army," Chiarelli said. "This ensures we stay focused on this issue at the highest levels of Army leadership, and that we're able to identify the underlying causes that lead to these tragedies. It also allows us to direct immediate responses that get straight to the root of the problem."
The Campaign Plan is overseen by both the Army's Suicide Prevention Task Force and the Suicide Prevention Council. The Council meets every two weeks and is empowered to make changes across the Army's spectrum of mental, behavioral, psychological, and resiliency programs.
The Army is taking steps to reduce the stigma associated with seeking mental health support. Personnel accountability, involvement by the chain of command, and continuity of care continue to be identified among the most effective counter-measures available to commanders.
The Army continues to build partnerships with some of the Nation's foremost experts on suicide prevention, to include the National Institute of Mental Health, to ensure Army-wide mental, behavioral, and psychological programs reflect the most current research and treatments.
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