Every year, there are hundreds of suicides across all branches of the U.S. military. In 2013, there were 441 suicides between all active and reserve components. The year before there was 483 suicides. These numbers do not count the number of failed suicide attempts, nor do they include the number of suicides by Veterans, which may be as high as 22 each day.
The Defense Department and the brass in every branch of service have taken military suicides very seriously, and have been extremely active in updating policies that will promote the prevention and detection of suicidal behaviors among their ranks.
Last month, the DOD announced that while military suicides among active duty members are down, reservists suicides have spiked considerably.
Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly introduced the Jacob Sexton Military Suicide Prevention Act. Sen. Donnelly’s legislation would require active duty and reservist service members to get an annual in-person mental health assessment, in hopes to prevent others from taking their own lives. In addition to the mental-health screenings, Donnelly wants an annual report from the Pentagon to the Armed Services committees detailing the screenings and what care or follow-up was recommended. The Defense Department would also have to submit a report on how to improve its response on mental-health issues. And a committee to improve mental-health services for National Guard and reserve troops would be formed with the Department of Health and Human Services.
Sen. Donnelly named his legislation after a young man from his state.Jacob Sexton was a 21 year old member of the Army National Guard who shot and killed himself inside an Indiana movie theater in 2009, during his two week leave from Afghanistan.
Military Connection advises anyone who is thinking about suicide or know someone who has to seek help immediately. Active duty service members should tell their direct leadership or command counselor. Veterans are urged to utilize the Veterans Crisis Line, either online, by calling 1 (800) 273- 8255  or by texting 838255.
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Military Connection: Bill to Stop Military Suicides: By Debbie Gregory