More Suicides Among Guard, Reserve Soldiers

More Suicides Among Guard, Reserve Soldiers, 9 Jan 2011, USA Today

By Gregg Zoroya

The U.S. Army vice chief of staff, Peter Chiarelli, speaks at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., last month. Army leaders must heighten efforts to reduce suicide rates among National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers, he says.


An increase in suicides among National Guard soldiers largely in states across the Midwest — such as Missouri and Wisconsin — is responsible for a 24% increase in Army suicides last year, the service reported Wednesday.

Missouri and Texas each reported seven suicides among their National Guard troops in 2010, Wisconsin had six, and there were five each in the National Guard units of Minnesota, Ohio, Arizona, California and North Carolina.

Soldiers, both active duty and on inactive status, died by suicide at the rate of 25 per month in 2010, Army figures show.

“All of us are stunned by it, and we wished we knew why,” says Army Lt. Col. Jackie Guthrie of the Wisconsin National Guard. “It is especially hard when it’s suicide, when it’s someone hurting in our ranks.”

USA TODAY reported in November that suicides had doubled among National Guard soldiers who were on inactive duty in a year when the Army was seeing a slight decline among active-duty soldier suicides.

The Army released final year-end statistics Wednesday. There were 301 confirmed or suspected soldier suicides in 2010, including those on active duty and reservists or National Guard troops on an inactive status, the Army reported Wednesday. This compares with 242 in 2009.