This statistic is so sad, and so unnecessary — in 2012 we set a record for the number of military suicides. Almost one service member per day committed suicide. One every 25 hours, to be exact, for a total of 349. This doesn’t even include more than 100 deaths that are still pending investigation.
We must do more as a nation to help our active-duty and reserve military cope with the stress and mental trauma they endure. These are young people. They need to see that suicide is never the appropriate response to any situation.
Here are a few excerpts from a recent story on this subject by NBS News:
The continuing rise in active-duty suicides coincides with a bevy of new initiatives and programs within the military aimed to stem the epidemic. For example, a crisis number has been launched for any active-duty member experiencing suicidal thoughts to dial, or for military family members to call if they spot a mental-health disaster looming within their home: 1-800-273-8255.
“This happens almost every month when they come out with the suicide numbers: (a flurry of media stories and public vows to immediately solve the problem), so I don’t want to get stuck on the number. But it’s too high and clearly it’s not a good trend,” said Kristina Kaufmann, executive director of Code of Support Foundation, an Alexandria, Va.-based nonprofit that advocates for needs of those in the military community, including military families.
Advocates fear the military suicide rate will climb in coming years as more troops are drawn down in Afghanistan. They worry about a spike, in part, because military families — typically the first people to spot mental-health red flags in their returning loved ones — “are just not effectively integrated into suicide-prevention efforts,” she said.
“We’ve asked too much of too few for too long, and this is the conversation the country needs to have. This is not just a military issue,” she added. “Look at how most of us got through the 10 years of war and the multiple deployments. This is a very tough community, unbelievably resilient. But after everybody comes home, and is home for longer than six months to a year, and we’re all together again in a non-emergency situation, that’s when the cracks will show.
“When we’re finally all able to take a breath, people are going to have to start dealing with the challenging things we’ve all kind of pushed down (internally) for the past 10 years. Remember what works well in battle and in combat and the characteristics that make a good soldier or a good Marine are sometimes not successfully translated when you come home,” Kaufmann said. “That’s where it’s going to be tough for people to readjust.”