Suicide Rate Drops, Still a Concern

There have been 56 suicides in the Air Force community so far this year. Although that number has dropped since this time last year, “it is still a major area of concern for our force,” Lt. Gen. Darrell Jones, deputy chief of staff for manpower and personnel, told the House Armed Services Committee’s military personnel panel last week. Unlike with some of the other services, there doesn’t seem to be a correlation between Air Force suicides and deployments. “In fact, 68 percent of everyone in the Air Force who’s committed suicide [has] never deployed,” said Jones. Of those who have taken their own lives, “only 10 percent . . . were deployed in the last six months,” he noted. Security forces, aircraft maintenance, and intelligence career fields have a higher suicide rate, so officials are reaching out to supervisors in those fields to help them recognize the signs that an airman is in despair and teach the supervisors what to do to help. “This is a leadership issue, not a medical issue, not a personnel issue,” said Jones. (Jones written testimony) (See also Heartfelt Intervention from the Daily Report archives and AFPS report by Karen Parrish.)