Release
Immediate Release

Secretary of Defense Statement on DoD Annual Suicide Report (CY2020)

Sept. 30, 2021

On this final day of September, National Suicide Prevention Month, I am reflecting on the brave men and women we have lost to suicide. I feel these losses personally and mourn alongside the families and loved ones of those we have lost. Each suicide sends forth wave after wave of pain and grief. One such tragedy is too many.

Today, the Department of Defense has released our Annual Suicide Report for Calendar Year 2020. The findings are troubling. Suicide rates among our service members and military families are still too high, and the trends are not going in the right direction.

This is a paramount challenge for our Department. We must redouble our efforts to provide all of our people with the care and the resources they need, to reduce stigmas and barriers to care, and to ensure that our community uses simple safety measures and precautions to reduce the risk of future tragedies. We will continue to work swiftly and urgently, in close collaboration with our partners at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

I know that these are difficult days for many people in our Department of Defense workforce, for our military communities, and for my fellow veterans. If you find yourself contemplating suicide or simply feel that you could use a helping hand, please immediately seek support from a mental-health professional, reach out to your family, friends, a clergy member, or talk to a trained professional at the Veterans and Military Crisis Line or Military OneSource.

As I have said, mental health is health—period. We must all do more, at every level, to end the stigma against getting help. We all need counsel, community, and connection. Reaching out is a sign of strength and resilience.

We cannot bring back those we have lost, but we hope that we can in some way honor their memory by doing more—right now—to prevent future tragedies from suicide among our wider DOD family.

Please visit www.militaryonesource.mil, call 800-342-9647, or chat online with the Veterans and Military Crisis Line: www.veteranscrisisline.net, call 800-273-8255 (press 1) or text 838255. Confidential support is available 24/7.