INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - Sobering numbers released this week reveal the highest number of military suicides in history. But Indiana's National Guard is bucking the trend.
The Army has produced suicide prevention videos for its soldiers. They include testimony from other soldiers who have overcome suicide attempts. These videos are part of the ongoing effort to prevent what the Department of Defense has called "an epidemic" - suicides in the military.
Numbers released by the Pentagon show the increase. In 2012, 349 active-duty service members took their own lives. That's up from 301 the year before and even more than the Pentagon projected.
"We haven't seen an increase over the past year," said Captain Rikki Mapes.
Mapes and Staff Sergeant Malika Dowdell serve on the Indiana National Guard's Crisis Intervention Team.
Unlike national numbers, Indiana National Guard suicides have remained steady. Five in 2012; the same as the year before.
They credit over 20 programs available to soldiers to help with every day life issues like finances and relationships. It's those problems, not combat, that have been the triggering points for their soldier's suicides.
"We do have programs in place on the front end of this to provide support before it becomes a crisis, before it gets to that point of a completion, and I think that's one of the reasons we haven't seen this increase," said Mapes.
The guard also offers Mental Health Professionals on call 24/7 but it's getting soldiers to take advantage of the help that's been a challenge throughout all military branches.
"When they see that our intervention methods work, when they see their battle buddies or their friends or another service member went forward and sought help and was able to get help," said Dowdell "I think that's also a motivator for others to say, 'Okay well it's working.'"
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