Military Suicide Numbers Reach Record High in 2012

Military Suicide Numbers Reach Record High in 2012

CONTACT: Zack Baddorf (212) 982-9699

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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Military Suicide Numbers Reach Record High in 2012
IAVA calls for solutions from the Presidential Interagency Task Force to address this national crisis

NEW YORK (Jan. 15, 2013) The Associated Press reported yesterday that a record high number of military suicides occurred in 2012, with 349 active duty service members taking their own lives. This is a 16 percent increase from 2011, and also the highest incidence reported since the Department of Defense began tracking suicides in 2001. Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America released the following statement from its Founder and CEO, Paul Rieckhoff:

“This latest suicide report further reveals a national crisis. This year, it rose by a shocking 16 percent. However, this number still fails to account for the countless veterans who commit suicide after they leave the military. Our experience supporting veterans daily leads us to believe that number is likely even higher. Solid steps have been taken by the military and elected leaders to address the suicide crisis by improving access to mental health care and strengthening suicide prevention programs. But clearly, we must do much more. Aggressive and actionable recommendations from the President’s Interagency Task Force on Military and Veterans Mental Health cannot come soon enough. No simple solution will address the full spectrum of challenges driving our troops and veterans to take their own lives, but the Task Force’s March report could make a huge impact if they consult nonprofit stakeholders like IAVA, who have been at the forefront of this issue for years.”

For the last decade, IAVA has led the fight for policy changes in Washington, including the establishment of the Suicide Prevention Line through the Joshua Omvig suicide prevention bill and the institution of mandatory mental health screenings by the Department of Defense. We also supported recent NDAA provisions that strengthen suicide prevention measures across the DoD and the VA, and establish similar programs for Guard and Reservists. In 2008, IAVA partnered with the Ad Council to launch the largest non-governmental public service announcement (PSA) campaign in American history, reaching thousands of veterans in need of mental health support. IAVA’s innovative Rapid Response Referral Program (RRRP) caseworkers also connect daily with veterans across America struggling with suicidal ideation and a variety of other transition-related challenges. Through RRRP IAVA works with government, nonprofit and private partners including the VA’s innovative Veterans Crisis Line and New York University’s Military Family Clinic to provide holistic care and support.

“Veterans in need of help need to know that they are not alone. They need organizations like IAVA that have walked in their shoes and know where they’re coming from. Veterans can reach out to IAVA at IAVA.org or contact the incredible staff at the Veterans Crisis Line (1-800-273-8255 press 1) to be connected with health care and support services in their local areas.”

“America is failing our nation’s heroes. We need strong leadership, innovation, empathy and most of all, urgency, to change this tragic trend. As a nation, we cannot continue to allow the men, women and children of our military and veteran families to fight this battle alone. We need reinforcements.”

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America is the nation’s first and largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and has more than 200,000 Member Veterans nationwide. IAVA recently received the highest rating – four-stars – from Charity Navigator, America’s largest charity evaluator.

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