WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Feb. 3, 2014) – The number of suicides in the Army dropped last year, compared to 2012, according to the Army deputy chief of staff, G-1.
Lt. Gen. Howard B. Bromberg said there were 301 suicides in the Army in 2013, while in 2012, there were 325 suicides Army-wide.
“We have seen an aggregate drop in suicides, and while not a declaration of success, it could indicate resiliency efforts are starting to take hold across the force,” he said. “Ultimately, the Army acknowledges there is more work to do.”
The figures are for the total Army — the active Army, the Army National Guard and Army Reserve.
Last year, 125 of the suicides were in the active Army; 117 in the Army National Guard; and 59 in the Army Reserve. For 2012, 165 of the suicides were in the active Army; 110 in the Army National Guard; and 50 in the Army Reserve.
Because of the complexity of the issue, the Army said it is difficult to identify specific reasons for the decrease. It is also difficult to determine what efforts might have contributed to the change. According to Bromberg, the Army’s aggressive promotion of “help-seeking” behaviors may have something to do with it.
“I am optimistic that more Soldiers are seeking help and learning ways to address and cope with issues they may have,” Bromberg said. “It’s about what the Army is doing to prepare Soldiers.”
“We are enhancing ways to recognize what Soldiers need to make them stronger and more resilient,” he added.
Currently, the Army has numerous efforts employed to reduce high-risk behaviors and incidents of suicide among its personnel to include working to combat the stigma associated with seeking behavioral care, and strengthening the whole person — mentally, physically and emotionally — to promote resilience and improve readiness.
Through its Ready and Resilient Campaign, or R2C, the Army promotes the development of a healthy mindset and behaviors, and enhanced coping skills to strengthen the Army family, promote resilience and improve readiness.
Within the program is the Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness program, or CSF2, which stresses resilience and strengthening of the whole family unit, for a ready and resilient Soldier.
“I am very encouraged that we have hit a turning point where people are really talking about behavioral health,” Bromberg said. “It’s OK to have problems, but it’s what you do about those problems … that is what’s really important.”
In other efforts, the Army has expanded access to behavioral health services, increased pre- and post-deployment screenings to improve the diagnosis and treatment of Soldiers, and is focused on identifying and treating traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The Army stresses that leaders in all levels of the Army should know their Soldiers, be aware of warning signs and high-risk behavior, and immediately seek help if they or someone they know needs help.
Assistance is available 24 hours a day/seven days a week at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255).