Preventing Suicide in the Total Force

The service is still working on a comprehensive review of its suicide prevention strategy, the Air Force surgeon general told a Congressional panel Thursday. “Air Force leadership is very concerned about the increasing rate at which suicide is occurring among airmen, a trend that has persisted since 2007 despite a focused prevention effort and adjustments to address underlying factors,” Lt. Gen. Mark Ediger told the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel. Last year, 62 Active Duty airmen died by suicide, up from 48 in 2013, according to a report released this month by the Department of Defense. Thirty-one Active Duty airmen have died by suicide so far in 2015, according to the report. Two Air Force Reservists and 13 members of the Air National Guard have committed suicide in 2015. The comprehensive review launched by Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Mark Welsh in April included a prevention summit, which happened in September and produced recommendations for refreshing strategy and building action plans, Ediger said. “We are working hard to meet mission demands while keeping stress on the force to a level compatible with good health and high performance among airmen,” he said. “We need every airman across the Total Force, including those in uniform and our government civilians.” (Ediger prepared statement.)