He didn't fall in Iraq or Afghanistan, and his death wasn't caused by enemy action.

But family and fellow soldiers regard Spec. Ivan Jose Lopez as a casualty of war just the same.

Lopez, 23, a National Guardsman with a wife and two small children, killed himself Jan. 28 at his home in Philadelphia's Frankford section, 26 months after coming back from a tour in Afghanistan.

"He was always a happy person. That was one of the things that made me fall in love with him," said his wife, Jadira Lopez. "After he came back, we just started having problems and arguments. He never came back the same, that's how I see it."

Lopez's death, by hanging, was the 14th suicide among Pennsylvania Army Guard ranks since 2003, including four in the last year.

At a time when suicides among active-duty Army troops have been on the decline, suicides among inactive Army Guard soldiers have nearly doubled nationally, from 62 in 2009 to 114 last year. (New Jersey had one Air Guard suicide in 2010.)

Guard leaders have been at a loss to explain the increase, except to note that guardsmen are left on their own when they return from a deployment. They go back to work or school, or just sit at home. Regular Army troops remain with their units and can be watched more closely for early signs of post-combat stress.

"It is my opinion that the loss of one soldier, regardless of what caused that loss, is one too many," said Maj. Gen. Randall R. Marchi, commander of the Pennsylvania Guard's 28th Infantry Division, who was among 50 Guard members in uniform who attended a viewing for Lopez on Jan. 31 at a church at Front and Clearfield Streets in North Philadelphia.

Lopez had been in combat - a Combat Action Badge awarded to him attests to that. But his wife said he never talked to her about his war experiences. His best friend and other family members declined to comment. Most of his recent Guard comrades, including his captain, were not with him in Afghanistan.

Lopez was born Dec. 21, 1987, at Temple University Hospital, to a family that had emigrated from Puerto Rico.

He graduated from Edison High, where he met his wife. Jadira Lopez, in a brief interview, remembered the date: April 18, 2006. Both were members of the school's track teams.

Lopez signed up for the Guard while still in high school. "He wanted to go to college, and the Guard, they help with that," his wife said.

His Guard record showed two years of college credit. He held a civilian job as a track-maintenance worker for Amtrak.

The couple's first child, Maya, was born two weeks before Lopez was called up in December 2007 for 11 months of active duty. He didn't go with his home unit but with the Third Battalion of the Army's 103d Armor Regiment.

When he got back, "he was fine, at first," Jadira Lopez said. But he became more and more angry, more and more at loose ends - still connected to the Guard but only one weekend a month.

He had threatened suicide in August while on his annual two weeks of drills at Fort Indiantown Gap. His wife said he then spent a week under VA care at a private clinic in the Philadelphia area.

Capt. John Felts, commander of Lopez's home unit - Company C of the 55th Brigade Special Troops Battalion - said it was clear to him, only now, that Lopez returned from Afghanistan with emotional wounds that led to his death.

Felts, who presided over Lopez's funeral last Tuesday at Washington Crossing National Military Cemetery, sat two days later in a quiet office at the company's armory in West Philadelphia.

He was asked if he believed the Guard had failed Lopez.

After long thought, he replied: "I have to do a better job of encouraging these guys to talk to each other at drills, and to create a support system in which they can check on each other."

Felts said Lopez went through all of the programs the Guard implements to prevent suicides.

Three months after being discharged from an active-duty deployment, guardsmen regularly are called back to their posts for an assessment of their physical and mental health.

The Guard has created a "battle buddy" system in which individual soldiers look out for one another when they resume limited duty. Guardsmen also undergo suicide-awareness training once a year.

Marchi, the division commander, said these measures had done some good - "we have prevented incidents" - but not enough.

A Guard spokesman said that 60 percent of suicides, nationally, have been among soldiers who had never been deployed overseas.

Sam Console, a former Guard officer who served in Iraq in 2004 and 2005, was among soldiers and veterans from Lopez's armory who attended the funeral viewing. He wore his most formal uniform - blue with striped pants. Other soldiers were in their dress greens or camouflage field uniforms.

"Every soldier that was there believed [Lopez] was a casualty of war," said Console, who also suffered post-traumatic stress after his deployment and is writing a memoir that aims to serve as a guidebook for veterans. "His brothers said they couldn't fathom him doing this. He was a happy man, who wanted his wife and his kids. Something happened to him - something deep and dark, and something that was fatal."

If Lopez had died on duty, in Iraq or Afghanistan, the Pentagon would have issued a news release. But the military was officially silent on Lopez's death.

Jadira Lopez said part of her wanted her husband's death to be private. But part of her also wanted to call attention to it so that perhaps another could be avoided.

"This is something that people should know," she said. "I think that there are a lot of families that are going through the same thing. I want people to know that if there is anything they need to do, they have to do it."