Army Video Game Combats Suicides

The Army wants to curb rising suicide rates using an unlikely tool: video games.

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The game, which plays like an interactive movie, is called "Beyond the Front," and lets players make decisions for the game's main character, a soldier.

In one situation the soldier has to help a fellow soldier considering suicide. In another, a soldier who is having a difficult time must decide whether or not to confide in family and friends.

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The game is designed with the hope that soldiers who play it will make better choices in real life concerning depression and thoughts of suicide.

"One suicide is too many," said Col. Thomas Languirand, chief of Command Policies and Programs Division for the Army to the The Christian Science Monitor.

The Army plans to distribute thousands of copies of the game to soldiers. It is part of an anti-suicide program costing the service nearly US$1 million.

Army suicides went up from 79 in 2003 to 115 last year, The Monitor reported. Two-thirds of the suicides were committed by soldiers who were deployed or had been deployed.

The Army already uses "DARWARS Ambush," a training game for soldiers and "America's Army," a publicly released video game, to help with recruitment.

Last week, the Army also announced it would invest $50 million over the next five years in more video games to train and prepare soldiers for combat.

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