Suicides among active-duty soldiers dropped in 2010 for the first time in five years, but the number of Army reservists and National Guard members who killed themselves nearly doubled, leaving Army officials scrambling to find ways to gain control of a suicide crisis that's defying the Pentagon's investment in prevention programs.
"It's not a deployment problem, because over 50 percent of the people that committed suicide in the Army National Guard in 2010 had never deployed," Maj. Gen. Raymond Carpenter, the acting director of the Army National Guard, said Wednesday at a news conference where the new figures were announced.
Carpenter also discounted the role that economic conditions played in the increase in suicides among reservists and members of the National Guard. "Only 15 percent of the people who committed suicide in fact were without a job," he said.
The Pentagon statistics released Wednesday listed 145 members of the Army National Guard and Army Reserves as suicides in 2010, up from 80 in 2009. Active-duty suicides totaled 156 in 2010, down from 162 in 2009, the Pentagon said.
Of U.S. military installations, Fort Hood, Texas, had the highest number of suicides last year, 22, compared with 11 in 2009. Fort Campbell, Ky., which had the highest number of suicides in 2009, 21, had 10 last year.