A new Pentagon report revealing preliminary data for 2022 has found that suicides across active duty US military personnel has fallen in the last 18 months, a reversal of the relatively steady increase that has been seen in recent years.
Sharp drops were seen in the Marine Corp and the Air Force in 2021, with a similar decline seen among Army soldiers in the first six months of this year, the Associated Press reports.
The stats show that the number of suicides in the Air Force and Marine Corp fell by over 30 per cent in 2021 compared to the year before, while the Navy fell by ten per cent. A similar 30 per cent drop was seen in the Army in the first half of the year, as well.
These decreases could be down to a range of new programmes, such as recreational outings, counselling and stress relief education, which was recently rolled out by the Department of Defense to address what has been a persistent issue across all armed forces,
Part of the problem appears to be widespread shortages of mental health professionals, as well as stigma surrounding asking for help with mental health.
Meanwhile, the National Guard and the Reserves saw small drops in suicide rates, with the Guard implementing outreach programmes and policies to raise awareness about mental health support and reduce stigmas, as well as providing firearms locks for personnel who keep weapons at home.
And acting assistant Army secretary for manpower Yvette Bourcicot explained that, although there are staff shortages currently, other personnel are being trained to fill the gaps, such as chaplains and health and fitness coaches.
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