WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) — Suicides among active-duty military in the United States have declined over the past 18 months, particularly in the Air Force and Marines last year and in the military in the first half of this year, according to a new study from 2022. Pentagon report and preliminary data.
The figures reveal a drastic change from recent years, with fairly steady growth.
This change reflects an increased focus on the problem from the high command and a series of new programs aimed at persistent problem solving across all branches of the military. It is not clear what impact the programs had or whether pandemic restrictions played a role.
The Defense Department is grappling with a widespread shortage of skilled mental health personnel and is struggling to reduce the stigma of seeking help. But the numbers offer a glimmer of hope that some recent changes – from mandatory specialist visits to instruction in stress-relief and recreational walks – are in the works.
According to statistics, the number of suicides in the Air Force and Marines fell by 30% in 2021 compared to 2020, and by more than 10% in the Navy. In the army, it is reduced by 30% in the first semester in relation to the same period of the previous year.
Last year saw a series of suicides at military bases, a slight increase from 2020. The Army was the only branch that had committed more suicides in 2021 than in 2020: 176 to 174. But this year, it is the only branch of the Armed Forces which has registered a shortfall.