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The Navy is on pace to surpass last year's record number of suicides, according to figures provided by the service.
A total of 53 active-duty and seven reserve sailors have died by suicide so far this year, and that is "roughly a little bit ahead" of the number of sailors who had taken their own lives this time in 2018, the Navy's top suicide prevention officer said.
"That trend is unacceptable," Rear Adm. Philip Sobeck, director, 21st Century Sailor, told reporters on Thursday. "We are looking at every aspect of why that trend continues, at least for the last three years. We're determined not to allow it to continue the way it's going."
For the fifth time since May, Shaw Air Force Base is mourning the death of one of its airmen. The most recent death is the third suicide, the Sumter County Coroner's Office confirmed Thursday.
"We lost another airman yesterday. Here we are again. I can't believe it," Col. Derek O'Malley, 20th Fighter Wing commander, said on a Facebook post. "... We lost another one of our own."
The commander of one of the Air Force's two B-52 Stratofortress wings issued an apology to airmen on Monday after referring to airmen who take their own lives as "chickenshit" during an event stand down event he ordered to focus on suicide prevention within his unit.
Col. Michael A. Miller, commander of the 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, reportedly commented that "killing yourself is a chickenshit way to go" during a 1.2 mile "resiliency day" run with personnel on Friday.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein has ordered all units to take a day before Sept. 15 to focus on preventing airmen from taking their own lives.
"Suicide is an adversary that is killing more of our airmen than any enemy on the planet," Goldfein write in a July 31 memo to commanders, which Task & Purpose obtained. "You and I have sworn to 'defend against all enemies, foreign and domestic.' Suicide attacks sometimes with and without warning. Make this tactical pause matter. Make it yours and make it personal."
I've been thinking a lot about suicide lately. No, that's not a suicidal ideation, it's just what I've been thinking about. One of my good friends, the last person I ever thought would fall victim to the scourge of suicide, killed himself. The one guy I knew, who would have stayed up for days to talk someone else out of suicide, ended up doing it himself.
I can't figure it out. Any one of the dozens of people he had helped over the years would have come to his aid if only he had asked. But he didn't.
Nearly half of all Veterans Health Administration clinicians did not complete suicide risk management training within the timeframe mandated by the Department of Veterans Affairs last year, according to a new report released May 18 by the Department of VA Inspector General.