- The Washington Times - Monday, March 9, 2015

Military suicides for the first three quarters of 2014 are down among members of the National Guard and reserves, according to Defense Department data released Monday.

The number of suicides among National Guardsmen decreased 30 percent compared to 2013. Sixty-eight National Guardsmen committed suicide between January and September of 2014, down from 97 over that same time period the previous year.

Reservists saw a smaller improvement with about a 12 percent decrease. Twenty reservists committed suicide between July and September of 2014, bringing the total for the first three quarters to 58. That’s down from 66 over the same time period in 2013.

Advocates have stressed that reserve and National Guard members often struggle when returning home from deployments since they lack the base structure, camaraderie and services afforded to those who serve on active duty.

Midyear suicide totals for active duty troops remained about the same. Two hundred active duty service members committed suicide between January and September of 2014, compared to 199 the previous year.

The quarterly numbers show some improvements, down to 56 active-duty suicides in 2014’s third quarter from 71 in 2013.

Congress passed legislation late last year that requires all members of the military, including reservists and National Guard members, to undergo an annual mental health check as part of their regular physical. The Jacob Sexton Military Suicide Prevention Act is expected to be fully implemented some time this year, according to a spokeswoman for Sen. Joe Donnelly, the Indiana Democrat who introduced the bill.

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