By Greg Jaffe
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 19, 2011; 2:15 PM
Suicides among soldiers serving on active duty decreased modestly in 2010 for the first time in years, even as the Army National Guard and Reserve saw a major increase in the number of soldiers taking their own lives.
New figures released Wednesday by the Army show how difficult it has been for officials to drive down the number of suicides in a force that remains under serious strain. Last year, 301 active-duty, reserve and National Guard soldiers committed suicide, compared to 242 in 2009, senior Army officials said.
The overall increase comes despite a massive effort on the part of the Army’s senior leaders to hire hundreds of mental health and substance abuse counselors and a major push to reduce the stigma among soldiers of seeking mental health care. Most of those efforts have been focused on the Army’s active-duty force, which did see a small drop in the number of suicides, from 162 in 2009 to 156 last year.