USA: suicides in active military decrease

WASHINGTON (HPD) — Suicides among the active-duty military in the United States have declined over the past 18 months, especially in the Air Force and Marines last year and in the Army in the first half of this year, according to a new Pentagon report and preliminary data from 2022.

The figures reveal a drastic change from recent years, characterized by a fairly constant increase.

The change reflects increased high command attention to the problem and a series of new programs aimed at solving what has been a persistent problem in all branches of the military. What is not clear is what the impact of the programs was or whether pandemic-related restrictions played a role.

The Department of Defense grapples with a widespread shortage of skilled mental health personnel and struggles to reduce the stigma of asking for help. But the numbers offer a glimmer of hope that some of the recent changes — from mandatory specialist visits to instruction in stress-relief and recreational outings — are working.

According to the data, the number of suicides in the Air Force and Marines dropped more than 30% in 2021 compared to 2020, and 10% in the Navy. In the Army, it decreased 30% in the first semester with respect to the same period of the previous year.

Last year saw a string of suicides on military bases, which was a slight increase from 2020. The Army was the only branch that had more suicides in 2021 than in 2020: 176 to 174. But this year, it’s the the only branch of the Armed Forces that has registered a decrease.

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