Fort Carson Suicide Rate Down By More Than A Third

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Army officials say Fort Carson's suicide rate fell by more than a third last year.

Fort Carson's acting commander, Brig. Gen. James Doty, said Wednesday the post's suicide rate was 31 per 100,000 in 2010, down from 49 per 100,000 in 2009.

In 2008, Fort Carson's rate was 66 per 100,000.

Doty says it's difficult to pinpoint the reasons for the decline but says one factor appears to be Fort Carson's practice of placing behavioral health teams closer to soldiers instead of clustering them all at the post hospital.

He says that makes it easier for soldiers to seek help and reduces some of the stigma attached to visiting the mental health section of the hospital.

In the military overall, suicides among active duty soldiers showed a slight drop in 2010 after five years of record increases.

Not all areas of the military saw their suicide rates drop: the Air Force was the only branch of the military to not see declines in suicides for its active duty soldiers. The number of suicides in the Army National Guard and Reserve actually doubled in 2010 from its previous 2009 rate. The big increase in suicides involved soldiers who were not on active duty at the time.

Lt. Gen. Jack Stultz, chief of the Army Reserve, said that geography created unique issues for reservists versus active duty soldiers. Many reservists are assigned to Reserve units outside of the city or state they reside in and typically go a month between drill weekends, making it difficult for the unit to keep tabs on the troubled soldiers. Not living on or near a base can also make access to behavioral health teams more of a challenge for soldiers.

Stultz said that leaders are looking for more ways for commanders to keep contact with members of their Reserve units during the bulk of the month.