Earlier this week, Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli reported a record number of suicides in the Army: 140 active-duty soldiers and 71 not on active duty are suspected of taking their own lives. Last year’s suicide total set a record, and this year’s total is on track to surpass it. The Washington Post’s Ann Scott Tyson got Gen. Chiarelli’s perspective on the effectiveness of current suicide-prevention efforts, which include improved screening and training, and the barriers that remain:

In January and February, there were about 40 suicides, or about one-third of the active-duty total this year, and since March the general trend has been down, with the exception of a couple of months, he said. He attributed that progress primarily to a campaign to increase the involvement of Army leaders at all ranks in suicide prevention efforts. …

Substance abuse, which can be related to mental health problems and suicide, is on the rise in the Army, Chiarelli said, and he added that the force is short about 300 substance abuse counselors.

The Army is also short an estimated 800 behavioral health specialists, he said, describing prewar authorization levels for such specialists as outdated. “I have been pounding the system to . . . determine what we need after eight years of war,” Chiarelli said.

In other news:

New York Times: After a long campaign by student activists, Russell Athletics has agreed to reopen a Honduran factory it closed after workers there unionized, and rehire the workers who lost their jobs to the shutdown.

CIDRAP: At a House Education and Labor Committee hearing, witnesses from CDC,  APHA, and the National Partnership for Women and Families spoke in favor of requiring employers to provide paid sick days, which could help prevent the spread of diseases like swine flu.

Hazards Magazine: Some green jobs, like those in recycling and the manufacturing of solar panels, can be hazardous to workers.

MedPage Today: A study presented at the American College of Chest Physicians meeting found the prevalence of asthma among Ground Zero responders (including law-enforcement officials and cleanup workers) to be nearly double that of the general population.

European Agency for Safety and Health at Work: EU-OSHA collaborated with the International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film to offer a “Healthy Workplace Film Award” to the best festival entry on a work-related topic. Dutch director Tony Van Zantvoort won the award for “A Blooming Business,” which shows working conditions in the global flower industry.