UPDATED 9:37 AM PT — Tuesday, August 6, 2019
The Department of Defense released a report showing military suicide rates hit a record high in 2018. Both military officials and President Trump used this summer to work toward curbing the issues surrounding military and veteran suicide. It began with a resolution signed by the president as well as the release of suicide data.
“To every veteran I want you to know that you have an entire nation of more than 300 million people behind you, you will never ever be forgotten,” said President Trump. “We’re with you all the way, I think you know that we must keep our promises to those who keep us free.”
The report, released earlier this week, stated 325 military members committed suicide in 2018. That data surpasses the previous record of 321 in 2012. Despite a slight decline since 2013, veteran suicide is considered an epidemic according to the Defense Department. This has prompted an effort from military services and the VA to find a solution.
The Army was the hardest hit branch with a reported 139 deaths in 2018, while the National Guard holds the highest continuous suicide rate at 29 deaths per 100,000 members.
“With suicide a lot of the guilt is, you know, why was I or my love not good enough to save this person,” said Kathleen Gault, the sister of a U.S. service member who committed suicide.
This coincides with another 2017 study reporting 95-percent of those who committed suicide were male, with 81-percent of them being white. Only 57-percent of suicides were of military members who were deployed at some point in their tenure, while half of them had reported cases of mental and behavioral issues before death. Records also show about half of those who committed suicide contacted military health services within 90 days of their time of death.