The U.S. Department of Defense on Thursday released its calendar year 2020 Annual Suicide Report which revealed the tragic news that 580 service members took their own lives last year.
“The findings are troubling. Suicide rates among our service members 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.
“This is a paramount challenge for our Department. We must redouble our efforts to provide all of our people with the care and the resources they need, to reduce stigmas and barriers to care, and to ensure that our community uses simple safety measures and precautions to reduce the risk of future tragedies,” he said.
According to the Associated Press and other outlets, the 580 suicides in 2020 mark an increase from 504 the previous year, though the Defense Departent’s report for calendar year 2019 indicates that 498 service members passed away from suicide that year.
“While suicide rates are not going in the desired direction, the Department did not see a statistical change in suicide rates between CY 2020 and CY 2019 or CY 2018 that would indicate a COVID-19-related increase,” according to a press release.
The suicides include 384 among the Active Component, 77 among the Reserve, and 119 among the National Guard.
“Active Component: The suicide rate statistically increased from CY 2015 to CY 2020 (i.e., 20.3 to 28.7 suicides per 100,000 Service members),” the report states. “A rise in the rate of suicide deaths across all Services was observed. In the near-term, the CY 2020 suicide rate was statistically comparable to both CY 2019 and CY 2018.”
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