U.S. soldier suicide rates up, but Iowa fares better - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

U.S. soldier suicide rates up, but Iowa fares better

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DES MOINES (KWWL) -

Soldier suicides are increasing at the fastest pace so far this decade---averaging one suicide per day for 2012.

So far this year, there have been 154 suicides among active-duty soldiers -- and we're only 155 days in.

That's 50 percent more than the number of soldiers killed in combat in Afghanistan over the same period of time.

The Iowa National Guard says Iowa has fared better than other states.

"I think Iowa does actually does a really good job in comparison to what I've heard from other states, they do really try to do what they can to help soldiers they have the resources out there, it's available there is people to talk to all the time," Iowa National Guard Staff Sgt. Heather Eberly said.

In the last five years, the Iowa Guard has reported a split in the number of suicides.

45% of suicides were soldiers who hadn't deployed yet—that's compared to 55% of soldiers who had already completed a tour of duty. And the Iowa guard hasn't had any suicides in the last two years.

They credit their continued education and an individual assigned to each unit who is trained to look for warning signs.

"Those soldiers who are thinking about suicide who have maybe attempted suicide that they can go and talk to this person and talk through there issues and get the help that they need,"says Major Amy Price with the Iowa National Guard.

Although the material and help is out there, the guard says letting soldiers know it's okay to ask for it still remains a challenge.

"There are still those out there that struggle with just taking that step forward and expressing that, 'I've reached my limit' or 'I just need someone to talk to', it's just a matter of we just need to continue educating people and let them know yes it's out there and try to do what we can to remove the rest of the stigma that is still in place," says Staff Sgt. Eberly.

The Iowa National Guard has all soldiers go through yearly suicide prevention and education so they can be aware of the signs and symptoms to look out for and what steps to take if they realize someone needs help.

For more information on these programs the guard encourages people to visit www.militaryonesource.com or call 1-800-273-TALK.

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