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Pentagon Joins Suicide Prevention Coalition

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WASHINGTON — Struggling with sharp increases in suicides among U.S. military forces, the Pentagon is joining a new national effort to reduce the number of Americans who take their own lives.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Friday that it was a tragedy to see soldiers, sailors and other service members return from the battlefield only to die from what he called "this scourge."

Gates and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius appeared at the National Press Club in Washington to launch the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention. The coalition of public and private groups is dedicated to reducing suicides across the U.S. population.

More than 1,100 members of the armed forces killed themselves from 2005 to 2009, and suicides have been rising again this year.

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