The elevated suicide level is one of the most pressing concerns facing the military community and in an effort to help improve treatment, the Department of Defense (DOD) recently launched an extensive review of the 900 suicide prevention initiatives currently underway at the DOD and service levels. The hope is that streamlining the process can ensure the most effective programs are kept while the less helpful ones are eliminated, Military Times reports.
A growing concern
The review comes after a bad year for suicides in the military community. In 2012, 349 troops took their own lives, which was not only a record number but was also higher than the number of soldiers who were killed in action. All branches of the Armed Forces operate their own suicide prevention initiatives, many of which are geared toward strengthening mental resilience and improving transition assistance. The DOD hopes that by investigating these efforts it will be better able to offer prevention techniques in the future.
"DOD fervently believes that every one life lost to suicide is one too many, and prevention is everybody's responsibility," Jacqueline Garrick, acting director of the Defense Suicide Prevention Office, told Congress recently. "This fight will take enormous collective action and the implementation of proven and effective initiatives."
The latest effort
While the DOD's extensive review is the just the latest effort from the department to curb the suicide rate, it has been a significant focus of top military officials during the last several years. In her testimony before Congress, Garrick noted that a DOD-led task force provided 76 recommendations to address the problem. They include the creation of a Suicide Prevention Office to consolidate all efforts related to the cause.
Soldiers find unique ways to overcome invisible wounds
An estimated 20 percent of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan experience symptoms related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and many of them have managed the side effects in a wide variety of ways. Among them is Joel Booth, who lost his leg serving in Afghanistan. The 24-year-old teamed up with production company Strategic Operations, which provides real-life training videos, to serve as an actor in hyper-realistic war scenarios, according to The Associated Press. Despite putting him back in stressful situations, the process has helped him manage PTSD symptoms.