(COLORADO SPRINGS) — The Department of Defense (DoD) released its yearly report concerning Military suicides on Thursday, Oct. 20.
The DoD Annual Report on Suicide in the Military: Calendar Year (CY) 2021 showed that the rate of suicide from 2020 to 2021 decreased. The overall trend had been increasing since 2011. The number of service members who died by suicide in 2021 is 519 with 328 active duty, 74 reservists, and 117 guard members, according to the report.
The group of service members that saw the most deaths by suicide was enlisted, young men, under the age of 30.
Some numbers that were included were that of spouses and dependents. The report states that 202 Military family members died by suicide. Of those, 133 were spouses and 69 were dependents, over 60% of which were under 18.
The DoD put in place a policy in 2020, the “DoD Policy on Integrated Primary Prevention of Self-Directed Harm and Prohibited Abuse or Harm” that is the framework for addressing numerous factors that contribute to suicide deaths.
One aspect of prevention that the DoD is focusing on per the report is reducing the stigma for those who seek mental health help.
According to the report, “DoD’s integrated primary prevention policy directs that suicide prevention policies, programs, and resources should incorporate seven elements:
- Promoting financial readiness: providing financial readiness training and financial counseling.
- Strengthening access and delivery of suicide prevention and intervention: increasing confidence and trust in services, encouraging help-seeking behaviors, and reducing stigma.
- Creating protective environments: increasing social support and promoting lethal means safety.
- Promoting connectedness: promoting the role of relationships and interpersonal connections.
- Developing coping and problem-solving skills: teaching and promoting skills to address stress and other issues, particularly among young Service members and those undergoing transitions, such as deployment, separation, or retirement.
- Identifying and supporting members of the military community who are at risk: equipping members of the military community to assess for and recognize risk factors in their peers, subordinates, clients, and families.
- Promoting reduction in self-harm and reducing future risk: providing postvention, bereavement support, and education on safe reporting and messaging on suicide.