INDIANAPOLIS — A summertime suicide surge among military reservists almost certainly will bring an end to the nation's three-year streak of annual declines in service member suicides.
Seventy troops in the reserve forces and National Guard, primarily the Army, took their own lives between July 1 and September 30, according to a U.S. Department of Defense report released this month.
That's the highest number of reservist suicides in any quarter since the Pentagon began keeping detailed records in 2013, and just 21 fewer reservist suicides than the entire first half of 2015.
Another 72 active-duty members of the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps and Navy took their own lives during the summer, according to the report.
That was one more active-duty suicide than the April-June period, and slightly above the average, since 2012, of 70 active-duty suicides each quarter.
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While service member suicide numbers for the final three months of 2015 still are being compiled, federal data show 363 active-duty and reserve troops took their own lives through the first nine months of the year.
Since 2012, the United States never has never recorded fewer than 100 military suicides in a quarter, making it likely the 2015 total will surpass the 443 service member suicides tallied in 2014.
It also will be the fourth year in a row that military suicides have exceeded combat deaths.
U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., who won approval in November for his plan to expand access to military mental health services, said the suicide statistics demonstrate the need to fully implement the new law as quickly as possible.
"This report from the Pentagon is a stark reminder of the devastating losses to families and communities across our nation," Donnelly said. "There is still a great deal of work to be done to combat military suicide and bring these numbers down to zero."