- The Washington Times - Friday, January 16, 2015

The number of military suicides decreased in 2013, according to a report released Friday, though advocates say the number is still too high.

A Defense Department report found that 479 members of the military committed suicide in 2013, down from 522 the previous year. Active duty troops made up 259 of the suicides in 2013, while 220 were reservists.

The year-end numbers aren’t necessarily a signal that the problem is solved, however. A separate Defense Department report released last month showed more active duty service members committed suicide in the first half of 2014 than over the same time period in 2013.

The Marine Corps had the highest rate of suicide, followed closely by the Army. The majority of those who committed suicide and almost half those who attempted it across all four branches had deployed at least once in the past, the report said.

Firearms remained the most common way to commit suicide in 2013, the report said, though the guns used were mostly not issued by the military.

Those most likely to commit suicide are white junior enlisted males under 30 who graduated high school, the report found.

Paul Rieckhoff, founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, called on President Obama to address the issue of military suicide in next week’s State of the Union address. He also noted that the Defense Department report doesn’t include any veterans suicide statistics, which some estimate is as high as 22 per day.

“Suicides from active-duty service members and veterans are categorized separately in reports from the DoD and VA, clouding the big picture and making the crisis seem smaller than it is. In reality, these men and women represent the same population with the same risk factors, but are just at different points in their careers,” he said in a statement.

• Jacqueline Klimas can be reached at jklimas@washingtontimes.com.

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