A new Pentagon report found that 519 US service members died by suicide in 2021, compared to 582 in 2020.
Last year’s 519 deaths involved active duty, reserve and National Guard members.
“Every suicide death is a tragedy that affects our nation, our military units and our readiness,” Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said in a news release Thursday. “The Secretary remains committed to combating suicides within the force and improving the quality of life for service members and their families by addressing stigma as a barrier to health.”
The largest drop in suicides among service members occurred among active duty members, the data showed. In 2021, 328 active duty members died by suicide, compared to 384 active duty members in 2020.
The decline was smaller for members of the Reserve and National Guard services. 74 reserve members died by suicide in 2021, compared to 77 in 2020.
According to the data, 117 members of the National Guard died by suicide in 2021, compared to 121 in 2020.
While the suicide rate for active duty members increased by 9.1% in 2020, the rate in 2021 was similar to 2019, the report said.
However, while it decreased from 2020 to 2021, the overall suicide rate per 100,000 active-duty service members increased slowly from 2011 to 2021, the report said.
Among reserve service members, the suicide rate per 100,000 members has remained largely unchanged between 2011 and 2021. Among National Guard members, the suicide rate per 100,000 members also remained flat, the report said.
Most of the service members who died by suicide were young men, the report said. The most common method of suicide was a firearm, with 70% of service member suicides involving one. Last year, President Joe Biden announced a military and veteran suicide prevention strategy that includes promoting safe storage of firearms and establishing best practices for firearms dealers.
The plan includes a new federal approach to improving fatal road safety, a voluntary practice of reducing a person’s risk of suicide by limiting access to objects that could be used to cause self-harm, including drugs, firearms or sharp instruments.
They are our daughters. Our sons the parents Spouses Brothers and sisters Dear friends and fighting buddies,” Biden said at the time.
“Each of these precious lives leaves behind loved ones who feel their absence every day, like a black hole in the middle of their chest.”