According to the quarterly report from the Office of Defense Suicide Prevention, there were 94 suicides on active duty from January to March, a 25% increase from the 75 soldiers who committed suicide in the first three months of 2022.
The report says, “Every suicide death is a tragedy.” As of March 31, 2023, “data includes all known or suspected suicides (confirmed and pending)”.
The largest increase in suicide deaths, from 37 to 49, occurred in the military. There are now fourteen Marines instead of eight. According to the Department of Defense report, there were no changes for the Navy or the Space Force and there was one more suicide in the Air Force compared to 2022.
Since 97 active duty suicides were reported in the second quarter of 2021, there have only been 94 active duty suicides. According to the report, suicide rates among members of the National Guard and the Reserve have remained constant between the first quarter of 2022 and the same period this year.
Defense Department efforts to prevent them have cost millions of dollars, but Pentagon data shows an increase in military suicides over the past decade, including a notable spike in 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic.
The department finally passed Brandon’s Law in May, allowing soldiers to get confidential mental health care whenever they need it. It is named after Brandon Caserta, a Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class who committed suicide in 2018. Department of Defense statistics show that in 2020 there were nearly 29 suicides per 100,000 soldiers, from 17.5 per 100,000 in 2010. Although it decreased to 24.3 per 100,000 in 2021, the suicide rate was still significantly higher than it was for the majority of the 2000s and 2010s .
“There is still a slow upward trend in suicide in the military over a ten-year period, and we need to see a long-term sustained reduction in suicide rates to know if we are really making progress,” said Beth Foster. , executive director of the Pentagon’s Office of Force Resilience, during the release of the 2021 annual report on suicide in the military in the fall.
A Pentagon task force created the Office of Defense Suicide Prevention in 2011 to find more effective suicide prevention techniques. After a year of research, the Pentagon’s Independent Review Panel on Suicide Prevention and Response issued a number of recommendations earlier this year, including restricting troops’ access to firearms, introducing waiting periods for the purchase of firearms and ammunition and raising the age of purchase. for two to 25. According to the Department of Defense, approximately two-thirds of all suicides among active-duty service members involved firearms. The Pentagon is considering the suggestions.
The Office of Defense Suicide Prevention generally does not release an updated suicide report covering the second quarter, which ended June 30, through October. Additionally, in October, the Pentagon releases its detailed annual report on military suicides. This year’s study will focus on 2022.
The four-page report notes that “the numbers presented in this report are preliminary and subject to change as previously unreported suicides and some known cases are under further investigation.” When comparing suicide rates between groups or interpreting changes in suicide rates over time, caution should be exercised.
Each of the military services has its own suicide prevention program in addition to programs run by the Pentagon to help soldiers who are in trouble. Additionally, the past year has seen a streamlining of the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, which is now accessible by dialing 988. The Veterans Crisis Line can be accessed by dialing the number and then pressing on the “1”. VeteransCrisisLine.net and texting 838255 are other options for service members and veterans seeking help.
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