(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. Army statistics to be released Wednesday will show the first annual decrease in suicides among active duty soldiers in six years. But the news is tempered by a significant increase in the number of suicides among Army reservists and National Guardsmen who are not on active duty.
Without providing specific numbers, Army officials told ABC News that the number of suicides among active duty soldiers for calendar year 2010 will be less than 2009's record high of 162. Through November 2010, 144 active duty suicides had already been recorded -- National Guardsmen and Army reservists mobilized to active duty are included in this number.
But a tough year was made even tougher by the sharp increase in 2010 in the number of suicides among National Guardsmen and Army reservists not on active duty.
The Army keeps a separate record of suicides among Army reservists and National Guardsmen who have not been mobilized and are not on active duty. Through November 2010, there were 122 suicides among these citizen soldiers. That's a significant increase over the 82 suicides among this group in 2009.
Taken together, the 266 total Army suicides through November 2010 is already higher than the 244 suicides for all of 2009.
The increase has been of mounting concern to senior Army officials who worry about the access to mental health professionals these reservists may not have in the civilian sector. Reducing the number of suicides within the ranks is a top priority for the Army, but there are no easy answers as to what might lead a soldier to turn to suicide.
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