The number of suicides in the active-duty U.S. military declined last year over the same period in 2020, which Pentagon officials are calling an encouraging sign while warning that much work remains to be done.
According to the just-released Annual Report of Suicide in the Military For Calendar Year 2021, there were 328 active-duty suicides last year, compared with 384 in 2020. Pentagon figures also show a slight dip in suicides in the part-time ranks: 74 in 2021, compared with 77 in 2020 for reserve personnel, and 117 in 2021, compared with 119 for troops in the National Guard.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said he was encouraged to see the decrease in the number of suicides.
“We recognize we have more work to do. Every death by suicide is a tragedy that impacts our people, our military units, and our readiness,” Mr. Austin said in a statement. “We have the most technologically-advanced military in the world, but our service members are our most important resource as a fighting force.”
The report indicates young enlisted male service members were found to be at greatest risk for suicide, military officials said.
“While it is encouraging to see the active component suicide rate decrease from 2020 to 2021, one such tragedy is too many, and we must redouble our efforts to prevent these deaths,” said Elizabeth Foster, executive director of the Pentagon’s Office of Force Resiliency.