It’s an upward trend that U.S. Army officials are trying to get a handle on. A subject that many shy away from. The word is suicide, and the statistics show that the number of service members taking their own lives is on the rise. Last month the deaths of 17 soldiers were either confirmed or suspected to be suicides, up from 13 in April and 13 in March. The total number of potential or confirmed suicides since January is at 82 according to Army officials. The Department of Defense released data showing there were 133 suicides last year, the highest rate since 1980 when the Army began recording the figure. The data is prompting national and local officials to take action. This spring, military personel began conducting training to help identify soldiers most at risk of attempting suicide.The Maine Army National Guard has created a network of services to help service members of the past and present. The Family Assistance Center is available to assist with financial, mental health, marital, and other issues service members and/or family members may be dealing with. Chaplain Lt. Col. Andy Gibson, the director of deployment cycle support for the Maine Army National Guard says, “Virtually every Servicemember, whether they experience combat directly or had a rear echelon job, is going to have some level of post traumatic stress. It’s a minority who get the disorder however: everyone could benefit from talking to someone. Dealingwith things earlier rather than later is very powerful. The Family Assistance Hotline is (888) 365-9287. *The Maine Army National Guard ranks in the top ten states for frequency of deployments with over 2,300 Servicemembers having deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan since September 11, 2001.