Report calls for coordination of military suicide-prevention programs

August 26, 2010

Despite creating several programs to prevent suicides, the military lacks a comprehensive, centrally coordinated strategy, according to a report released Aug. 23 by a Department of Defense task force.

The report recommends establishing a policy office to streamline efforts. Current prevention programs suffer from being developed rapidly and separately by the different military branches, the task force said in an executive summary.

This report comes on the heels of an Army report (large .pdf file) on suicides, which linked at-risk behavior to stressors such as relationship problems, work stress and lack of accountability.

The task force issued 76 recommendations, including:

  • Reduce stress on the force; balance the supply-and-demand mismatch.
  • Develop a campaign to reduce the stigma associated with seeking help.
  • Ensure quality behavioral health care.
More than 1,000 service members took their own lives from 2005 to 2009. The task force concluded multiple and long deployments are partially to blame.