The Army on Thursday kept attention on suicides within its ranks by disclosing that as many as 23 soldiers took their lives last month. The announcement coincides with September’s designation as suicide prevention month, and it follows troubling statistics that showed a spike in suicides in June when 32 soldiers killed themselves.
The Army publishes the statistics as it seeks to make soldiers aware of mental health services that are available to them.
“Our efforts continue to evolve as we learn more about the multiple factors contributing to suicides and high-risk behavior within our Army family. The end state remains the ability to provide our soldiers, civilians and families with the quality care and support they need and deserve,” said Col. Chris Philbrick, deputy director of the Army Health Promotion, Risk Reduction Council and Task Force.
Joint Base Lewis-McChord follows the message with banners at busy intersections advising soldiers to be mindful of comrades who may be experiencing mental health stress. It encourages them to escort buddies to mental health services if they fear for their safety.
“The well-being of your soldiers is job one, and I expect you to get it right,” said Maj. Gen. Johnson, the commanding general at the base, in an August message to soldiers. “Soldiers, you are not without responsibility for each other. You spend time together on and off duty, in garrison and downrange, and you know when things aren’t going well for one of your battle buddies.”
The Army publishes resources for suicide prevention at www.preventsuicide.army.mil.