‘One Loss by Suicide is Too Many’: Pentagon Concerned Over Rise in Cases Among Active-Duty US Troops

Last year, stressors typically challenging military personnel were augmented by the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, said the US Defense Department, adding it necessitated some changes in the mental health services offered.

The US Defense Secretary, Lloyd Austin, has voiced concern regarding the surge in suicides among US troops.

Austin spoke after a briefing from leaders about the spike in suicides among service members stationed in Alaska, where at least six soldiers have died by probable suicide since 30 December.

The Department of Defense (DOD) chief underscored that addressing the issue necessitated reducing the “stigma” associated with seeking help for mental health issues.

“Mental health is health, period,” said Austin, according to whom the suicide issue ought to be handled with “compassion and professionalism”, as in the case of any other health issue.

Active-Duty Stress Factors

According to the Pentagon, stress factors typically associated with life in the military have been heightened by the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

In 2020 the DOD expressed concern regarding the rate of suicide among active-duty service members over the last five years. According to the 2019 Annual DoD report, the overall rate of deaths by suicide soared from 20.2 deaths per 100,000 in 2015 to 25.9 in 2019.

The rate had risen from a 2018 rate of 20.7 deaths per 100,000 to 21.5 per 100,000 in 2019 for the Navy.
While the Army rates held steady at about 29.8 per 100,000…

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