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Military Suicides Drop By More Than 22 Percent

Navy suicide prevention poster
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Above: Navy suicide prevention poster

The latest numbers from the Department of Defense show suicides in the military are down 22 percent this year. The reason why has many Pentagon officials perplexed.

The DoD suicide statistics were made available to The Associated Press by an anonymous official:

With two months to go in this calendar year, defense officials said there were 245 suicides by active-duty service members as of Oct. 27. At the same time last year there already had been 316.

Each of the military services has seen the total go down this year, ranging from an 11 percent dip in the Marine Corps to a 28 percent drop for the Navy. The Air Force had a 21 percent decline, while Army totals fell by 24 percent.

Pentagon officials aren't quite sure of the reason for the suicide decrease. Recent studies have shown that deployments to war zones and suicides are not linked, so the drawdowns in Iraq and Afghanistan aren't viewed as a reason.

The rise in service members taking their own lives began in 2006, and has continued to soar until this year.

The spotlight on the problem, and the host of new programs made available to troops considering suicide, may be one factor in the drop in numbers. Ami Neiberger-Miller, spokeswoman for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, told The Associated Press:

“Suicide is often a perfect storm in an individual life, where many supports and many things come undone around a service member. I think there’s been a lot of people encouraging our troops who are in trouble to seek help, that help is available, that help can work and that suicide is not the only option.”

Why do you think there has been a drop in the number of military suicides? Have your say in our comments section!

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