For First Time In Four Years, Army Suicide Rates Decline

USA Today (1/20, Zoroya, 1.78M) reports, “Army suicide rates declined for the first time in four years in 2011, the result of a complex effort to identify soldiers engaged in risky or self-destructive behavior, according to the outgoing vice chief of staff, Gen. Peter Chiarelli.” USA Today adds, “Suicides among active-duty soldiers and those in the National Guard and Reserve who are not on active duty fell by 9% last year from 305 deaths in 2010 to 278 in 2011.” However, the Army suicide rate, “about 24 per 100,000 last year, remains higher than a similar demographic among civilians, about 19 per 100,000.”

The New York Times (1/20, Bumiller, Subscription Publication, 1.23M) depicts the findings in a different light, saying that “suicides among active-duty soldiers hit another record high in 2011,” while noting “there was a slight decrease if nonmobilized Reserve and National Guard troops were included in the calculation.” Chiarelli also said it is “unacceptable,” that “violent sex crimes” increased “nearly 30 percent.” Chiarelli “said factors driving the increase in sex crimes were alcohol use and new barracks that offered more privacy.”

The CNN (1/20, Shaughnessy) website, meanwhile, reports, “The latest numbers released by Chiarelli during a briefing with reporters Thursday show that active-duty Army suicides were up again in 2011, compared to 2010,” and that “suicides throughout the Army, the Army Reserves and the National Guard, while down in the past year, are still nearly 40% above what they were from 2008, the year before Chiarelli began overseeing the Army suicide prevention effort.” Chiarelli, who “believes that one way to reduce soldier suicides is to get guns away from soldiers who exhibit high-risk behavior,” commented on the numbers, emphasizing, “What I would look at here is the fact that for all practical purposes for the last two to three years,” the numbers have “leveled off.”

Posted in In The News.