Active Duty Suicide Escalates Out-of-Control

On average, PTSD suicide continues to claim the lives of 22 of America’s precious veterans, every day. These are warriors and combatants who could not successfully transition back to the civilian life they had once known. It wasn’t so much that their previous lives were all that different from what they left behind, the difference was within them. They changed, and they could no longer cope…

Volunteer organizations such as “Stop Soldier Suicide,” “22-Kill,” and “Guitars4Vets,” largely run by veterans, for veterans, make consistent efforts to reach out to veterans in crisis, and though they do help reduce the number of self-inflicted deaths, alas, the veteran must first reach out.

While this grave issue can never receive the full attention it’s worthy of, a similar crisis that receives little to no attention continues to catapult out-of-control. Active-duty suicide is on the rise.

In the first half of 2020, twelve more active-duty military members died by suicide than in the first half of 2019. This equates to roughly two suicides per day versus one.

According to its second-quarter report, “The DoD recognizes the potential impact of COVID-19 on the well-being of our Service members and families. We are closely monitoring potential impacts and proactive steps to mitigate those potential impacts from COVID-19.”

Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy made the following statement. “I can’t say scientifically, but what I can say is — I can read a chart and a graph, and the numbers have gone up in behavioral health-related issues.” The DoD said 35 active-duty soldiers died by suicide in July alone.

The DoD suicide prevention office director, Karin Orvis, said of the situation, “At this time, it’s too early to determine whether suicide rates will increase for 2020. We’ll need to have the full year of data, and investigations completed, to determine the cause of death.” From all other information received, Orvis sounds a bit optimistic and too overly patient. The problem is now.

Orvis explained away needing a full year of data by saying, “In case what initially presents as a suicide ends up to be an accident or foul play.” While this could be a valid point in a small percentage of cases, perhaps it would be best to treat each incident as suicide until “after” the investigation plays out instead of visa-versa.

Army officials cannot say if mandatory quarantine periods due to the pandemic, permanent change-of-station transfers being delayed, or other interruptions of Army routine are causing this catastrophic decay in mental health, but this is where they cannot help but direct their focus.

Maj. Gen. Dawne Deskins, the Air National Guard’s deputy director, said, “I’m concerned of what we’re going to look like over the next few months and years at the other end of this. I just don’t think we know.”

Concerning the veteran suicide crisis, President Trump recently signed a new bill calling for a National three-digit veterans emergency line, similar to making a 9-1-1 call.

V.A. Secretary Robert Wilkie praised the president by saying, “People in distress and in need of timely care should face the fewest obstacles possible to get help. The bill President Trump signed today will soon make it easier for those at risk to be quickly connected to a trained responder and will help save lives.”

With veteran suicide statistics remaining at 22-lives per day, the new suicide crisis hotline number, which will be 988, will not just be exclusive to veterans, though it will give them easier and quicker access in times of distress.

While at long last veteran suicide is gaining the attention it has deserved for many years, and many lives ago, the critical issue of active-duty military suicide must be placed on the front burner as well. Every single suicide is unacceptable, but the thought of two per day is unconscionable.