The Air Force is the only military branch that saw a decrease in both active-duty and Reserve suicides last year, according to data provided by the service.
A total of 58 active-duty suicides were reported in 2018, of which 16 deaths are suspected suicides pending confirmation, the service's data shows. By comparison, 63 active-duty airmen took their own lives in 2017; however, the five-year average for Air Force active-duty suicides is roughly 61 deaths per year, showing little has changed since 2014.
"We are not satisfied with flat-lined suicide death numbers," Brig. Gen. Michael E. Martin, director, Air Force Integrated Resilience, said in a statement. "The Air Force is dedicated to a comprehensive, leadership-driven strategy with the ultimate goal of supporting airmen and their families early with a robust network and never losing another airman to suicide."
However, the Air Force Reserves saw a sharp decrease in suicides from 11 in 2017 to three in 2018, the Air Force's data shows. That is the lowest number of Reserve suicides since 2012.
Whenever an airman commits suicide, the Air Force establishes a suicide analysis board that looks into the underlying causes of the death, similar to investigations into aircraft crashes, said Air Force spokesman Maj. Nicholas Mercurio.
"We engage with experts from the Air Force, Department of Defense and academia to identify and pursue the most promising immediate, mid, and long-range prevention approaches that have empirical support in reducing suicides," Mercurio said in an email.
The Air Force also trains airman to recognize warning suicides for suicide so they can intervene in time, he said.
"Our program is designed for maximum support to airmen and their families well in advance of crisis, and to support commanders and leaders at all levels in order to ensure the network of helping agencies is actively engaged in prevention, intervention and postvention," Martin said. "It is about a culture of care and respect established by commanders and senior enlisted leaders that arms airmen at all levels with the training and tools for the decisive edge when their wingmen are in crisis."
NEWPORT — The explosion and sinking of the ship in 1943 claimed at least 1,138 lives, and while the sea swallowed the bones there were people, too, who also worked to shroud the bodies.
The sinking of the H.M.T. Rohna was the greatest loss of life at sea by enemy action in the history of U.S. war, but the British Admiralty demanded silence from the survivors and the tragedy was immediately classified by the U.S. War Department.
Michael Walsh of Newport is working to bring the story of the Rohna to the surface with a documentary film, which includes interviews with some of the survivors of the attack. Walsh has interviewed about 45 men who were aboard the ship when it was hit.
Editor's note: this story originally appeared in 2018
How you die matters. Ten years ago, on Memorial Day, I was in Fallujah, serving a year-long tour on the staff and conducting vehicle patrols between Abu Ghraib and Ramadi. That day I attended a memorial service in the field. It was just one of many held that year in Iraq, and one of the countless I witnessed over my 20 years in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Like many military veterans, Memorial Day is not abstract to me. It is personal; a moment when we remember our friends. A day, as Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “sacred to memories of love and grief and heroic youth."