WASHINGTON (CN) – Twenty-seven soldiers committed suicide in January, a record since the army began aggressively tackling suicide almost a year ago. “We still have a way to go,” Army Spokesman George Wright said in a phone interview.
February was the last time as many soldiers committed suicide.
The numbers includes 12 active-duty and 15 non-active duty soldiers, representing only the second time during the last year that active duty soldiers were less prone to commit suicide than their non-active duty colleagues.
When asked about the flip, Wright from the Pentagon said, “That certainly reinforces the need to reach out to all army components”
The army “got very aggressive” in tackling suicide after a peak of suicides among active duty soldiers during the first three months of last year, with the death of 53 soldiers, Wright said.
In releasing the numbers, Army Suicide Prevention Task Force Director Colonel Christopher Philbrick said, “Over the last year, you could describe our Army effort as shining a flood light on the problem of suicide. Now in 2010, we’re going to move from a flood light to a laser light.”
“One suicide prevention approach that is working is the Army’s ‘Ask, Care, Escort’ model of suicide prevention,” said Philbrick, which he described engaged, concerned leadership, and caring for your fellow soldier.
The army has been investigating the cause of suicide, and though many claim that it is related to deployments frequency, army research has shown no link.
Army Vice Chief of Staff Peter Chiarelli said in November that the army was working hard to eliminate the stigma of seeking help. “This is a matter of life and death, and it is absolutely unacceptable to have individuals suffering in silence,” he said.
The Army also adopted the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program in 2008, which Chiarelli described as an investment in soldiers’ mental and emotional health.