By Alex Marquardt and Ellie Kaufman, CNN
(CNN) – The suicide rate among active-duty servicemen in the U.S. military increased by 41.4% in the five years from 2015 to 2020, according to data provided in the Department of Justice’s annual report. Defense on suicide in the military.
The suicide rate among active duty members rose 9.1% in 2020, according to data in the report, which was released on Thursday. From 2018 to 2020, it increased by 15.3%.
The suicide rate among U.S. Army reservists increased 19.2 percent in 2020, but the rate has generally declined since 2018, according to the report. The suicide rate among members of the National Guard rose 31.7% in 2020, but has also declined overall since 2018.
Some 580 members of the military, among the active-duty military, reservists and the National Guard, died by suicide in 2020. The report also shows that 202 military family members died by suicide in 2019.
“The results are disturbing. The suicide rates among our military and military families are still too high, and the trends are not going in the right direction,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement Thursday.
“We must redouble our efforts”
The report also states that the suicide rate among reserve members has not significantly “increased or decreased”. The report says there was no “statistically significant increase or decrease” in suicide rates among members of the National Guard between 2015 and 2020.
The department has seen no impact of Covid-19 on statistical suicide rates from 2019 to 2020, Karin Orvis, director of the Defense Office of Suicide Prevention, said Thursday in a briefing on the report. However, the report acknowledged that the pandemic could be one of multiple factors contributing to well-being and suicide risk.
“We must redouble our efforts to provide all of our people with the care and resources they need, to reduce the stigma and barriers to care, and to ensure that our community uses simple safety measures and precautions to reduce the risk of future tragedies, ”says Austin.
The servicemen who died by suicide in 2020 were “largely enlisted men under the age of 30,” according to the report. The majority of servicemen who died by suicide did so with a firearm, followed by hanging or asphyxiation as the second most common method, according to the report.
Suspected suicides at Fort Drum
In the span of two days this month, three servicemen from Fort Drum in New York City have died in suspected suicides. An investigation into the cause of death of the three men is underway, according to Lt. Col. Josh Jacques, spokesman for Fort Drum.
Private First Class Tyler S. Thomas, 21, died on September 16. The sergeant. Angel G. Green, 24, and specialist Sika M. Tapueluelu, 26, died on September 17, Jacques said.
Green had recently deployed with his unit to Afghanistan twice, returning from his last deployment on September 6. “Officials don’t believe the main reason was that he had just returned from a deployment,” Jacques said.
“Immediately when we have a situation where a soldier is suspected of having committed suicide, we want to know the trigger. What are the underlying challenges that contributed to the decision to harm yourself? We want to know what we haven’t caught? What are we missing? That’s our immediate goal, ”Major General Milford H. Beagle, Jr., commander of the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, said in a statement obtained by CNN Thursday.
Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth and Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville, along with Austin, said they recognize more needs to be done to tackle the issue of suicide in the army.
“Suicide remains a significant challenge for our military,” Wormuth and McConville said in a joint statement regarding the annual report. “While there is no clear understanding of what causes the increase in suicides, we realize that we need to do better to prevent suicide and ensure that resources are available and easily accessible.”
For assistance, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). There is also a crisis text line. For crisis assistance in Spanish, call 1-888-628-9454.
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