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.