Washington, DC – Following a U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) report released yesterday that showed a spike in military suicides, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee, today called for a Senate hearing on suicides among service members and their families. According to the DoD report, 541 service members died by suicide in 2018, and the active duty suicide rate was approximately 24.8 per 100,000 service members. This represents a sharp increase from 21.9 in 2017 and 18.7 in 2013. The increase is especially prevalent among younger enlisted service members.
“This report is extremely troubling, and we all should have many questions about why more and more of our service members are taking their lives,” said Senator Gillibrand, Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee. “These numbers are going in the wrong direction, and it is the responsibility of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee to help find answers and real solutions to address mental health and suicide. I look forward to working with Senator Tillis to do just that.”
The full text of Gillibrand’s letter to Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee may be found here and below:
The Honorable Thom Tillis
Subcommittee on Personnel
Senate Armed Services Committee
113 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Chairman Tillis,
I am respectfully requesting that the Subcommittee on Personnel hold a hearing on the troubling increases of suicide among our service members and their families. I am confident you are as passionate about the well-being of our service members and their families as I am, and you are as eager to find answers to this persistent and unacceptable problem.
In the wake of yesterday’s Department of Defense Annual Suicide Report there are important questions that need to be asked. The responsibility for finding meaningful answers and solutions falls within our committee’s oversight role. The report details several troubling trends, especially with respect to an increase in the last five years among our active duty service members and a more recent spike in suicides among National Guard troops. The data and findings provided in the report highlight the alarming ineffectiveness of prevention efforts and highlight the need for new approaches to combating the challenges posed by military service on the mental health on those who sacrifice so much.
As the Chairman and Ranking members of the Subcommittee on Personnel, we must honor our responsibility to our military members and their families by calling for a hearing on this matter. I look forward to working with you on this important matter.