Military Suicides Up in 2012
The Department of Defense (DoD) recently released alarming
information on military suicides in 2012, indicating a 16-percent
increase over 2011. Total active duty suicides rose from 301 in 2011, to
349 for last year. The report does not explain why service members are
taking their lives, and DoD and Congress are struggling to respond
effectively to this problem.
The FY 2013 Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 112-239) includes
provisions requiring DoD to implement a standardized and comprehensive
suicide prevention program. This was in response to a RAND Corporation
study indicating serious gaps and a lack of consistency in existing
programs aimed at reducing the number of military suicides.
On average, 18 veterans are also committing suicide daily and a
September 2012 Presidential Executive Order requires the Department of
Veterans Affairs (VA) and DoD to establish an inter-agency task force to
coordinate suicide prevention efforts. FRA believes adequate resources
and support programs, to include expanded mental health counseling, are
essential in preventing suicides among service members and veterans, and
continues to address the issue in testimony and meetings with
legislators and their staff.