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Immediate Release

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III's Statement on DoD Annual Suicide Report (CY2021)

Today the Department of Defense is releasing the Annual Report on Suicide in the Military for Calendar Year 2021.  

While I am encouraged to see a decrease in the suicide rate in our Active Component, we recognize we have more work to do. Every death by suicide is a tragedy that impacts our people, our military units, and our readiness. That's why we remain committed to a comprehensive and integrated approach to suicide prevention. Going forward, we are standing up a dedicated prevention workforce to strengthen our efforts to address suicide and other challenging areas. The scale of this workforce is unprecedented and reflects our commitment to make lasting change.  

Mental health is health – period. It's on all of us to end the stigma of asking for help and support when we or someone we know is feeling distressed, anxious, or isolated. Reaching out is a marker of strength and resilience. We will not stop working to address the root causes of this issue. We also continue efforts to improve the quality of life for Service members and their families, address stigma as a barrier to seeking help, and expand our safety efforts for our Service members and their families. While we have made progress in these areas, we must continue to do more.  

Earlier this year I announced the establishment of the Suicide Prevention and Response Independent Review Committee (SPRIRC), which is working to help prevent suicide in the military by providing an external perspective on our efforts and how we can better support our Service members. I recently spoke with Dr. Gayle Iwamasa, Chair of the SPRIRC, and I look forward to reviewing the committee's concrete, actionable recommendations later this year.

We have the most technologically advanced military in the world, but our service members are our most important resource as a fighting force. Mental health wellness and suicide prevention remain critical aspects to our success and the Department's enduring commitment to take care of our people.

Service members can reach the crisis line by dialing 988 or 1-800-273-8255 and selecting option 1 after connecting to reach a staffer. In addition, veterans, troops, or their family members can also text 838255 or visit VeteransCrisisLine.net for assistance.