Washington, D.C. (October 15, 2020) – The American Association of Suicidology (AAS) has been a committed force in the area of suicide prevention and mental health promotion for US military service members and veterans. Tragically, yesterday one of our nation’s heroes, a United States Sailor assigned to the USS Roosevelt, died by suicide. This death will leave many Pentagon leaders, fellow sailors and people across the nation wondering why, or if there was something that was missed or that could have been done to prevent such a tragic loss of life.  Suicide is complicated, and we recognize there is never one single reason that causes a solider, sailor, airman or Marine to take his or her life. This tragedy is compounded as we see hundreds of active duty service members die from suicide every year.

A recent DoD report highlights an uptick in suicide rates by 20 percent. Many are already speculating about the links to COVID-19. We may not have the data to determine if there is a direct, scientific link to the stressors associated with this pandemic but we do know that as a nation we are all living during an unprecedented time, dealing with heightened stressors and many uncertainties. 

“This situation requires an all hands-on deck approach to ensure military leaders, peers, family members, and loved ones have all the resources they need to help those that are struggling.  Each suicide reinforces the need for new approaches and re-doubling of our efforts to save lives” according to Dr. Keita Franklin, Co-Chair of the AAS Military and Veteran Sub-Committee and former Director of Suicide Prevention at both the Departments of Defense and Veteran Affairs.  Kim Ruocco, Vice President of Suicide Prevention and  Postvention for TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) serves alongside Dr. Franklin as co-lead for this effort.

Committed to reducing suicide rates and helping people find lives worth living, AAS established a military and veteran committee this summer, bringing together experts to share best practices identify gaps and offer resources to help improve all faucets of suicide prevention within the military and veteran community. 

“We  recently formed this committee to make sure we are doing everything we can for our service members,” said Colleen Creighton, AAS Chief Executive Officer. ‘We recognize that they have unique risks and protective factors and want to make sure that they access culturally relevant resources to meet those needs.”   

For those in crisis or in need of mental health support, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741 741 to reach the Crisis Text Line.

About AAS: The American Association of Suicidology is the world’s largest membership-based suicide prevention organization. Founded in 1968 by Edwin S. Shneidman, PhD, AAS promotes the research of suicide and its prevention, public awareness programs, public education and training for professionals and volunteers. The membership of AAS includes mental health and public health professionals, researchers, suicide prevention and crisis intervention centers, school districts, crisis center volunteers, survivors of suicide loss, attempt survivors, and a variety of laypersons who have in interest in suicide prevention. You can learn more about AAS at www.suicidology.org.