Oct. 26 (UPI) -- On Thursday, the Department of Defense released its annual 2022 report on military suicides, underscoring the imperative for sustained efforts to curb suicide rates in the armed forces.
The report offers insights into the ongoing concern about suicide within the military and presents data on suicide rates among service members. Although some of the numbers are reason to be optimistic, the DOD says they don't tell the whole story.
For example, the department said there was a decrease in service member suicides, with 492 cases in 2022 compared to the previous year's 524. However, the report's findings also indicate that the rate suicide rate per 100,000 people increased by 3%.
Defense officials said most of the incidents involved young, enlisted men, and firearms were the most common cause of death.
The report notes that military suicide rates were generally on par with the U.S. population between 2011 and 2021, when adjusting for age and sex differences.
In the report, The DOD acknowledges the variability in suicide rates from year to year and, therefore, says it prioritizes assessing long-term trends and aiming for a consistent reduction in rates over multiple years.
"Even one suicide is too many," said Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III in a statement Thursday, following the release of the report.
"We have much more work to do to reduce suicide across our force and owe it to our service members and our military families to provide the best possible care; to identify risk factors and spot warning signs; and to eliminate the tired old stigmas around seeking help."
Austin initiated the Suicide Prevention and Response Independent Review Committee in 2022 and, in Sept. 2023, he approved a comprehensive campaign with the goal of fortifying the DoD's suicide prevention strategy.
The complete Annual Report on Suicide in the Military, is here.
If you or someone you know is suicidal, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988.