Today, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III issued a memorandum on the Next Steps on Suicide Prevention in the Military.
On March 22, 2022, Secretary Austin established the Suicide Prevention and Response Independent Review Committee (SPRIRC) to conduct a comprehensive review of the Department's efforts to address and prevent suicide. For the past year, committee members have studied suicide prevention and response activities, policies, and programs. The SPRIRC visited a range of military installations, both in the continental United States and outside the continental United States, and received input through focus groups and individual interviews.
Recently, the SPRIRC delivered its report, which provides a range of recommendations to eliminate suicide in the military, to Secretary Austin. As a result, Secretary Austin has approved a two-phase approach to drive progress on implementation.
In the first phase, Secretary Austin approved the immediate implementation of the recommendations addressing service member well-being and access to behavioral and mental health care based on existing authorities and available resources, with adjustments made as appropriate, with a focus on rapid and effective implementation.
In the second phase, the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, will swiftly establish a Suicide Prevention Implementation Working Group as the primary body to: (1) assess the advisability and feasibility of implementing each of the remaining recommendations; (2) identify specific policy and program changes needed to implement each remaining recommendation, as appropriate; (3) provide cost and manpower estimates required to implement each remaining recommendation; (4) provide an estimated timeline to implement each remaining recommendation; (5) identify barriers to implementing the remaining recommendations, if any; and (6) to the extent applicable, identify recommendations for which implementation can be synchronized with current Department prevention activities and capabilities resulting from the Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault in the Military.
DoD’s commitment to continue efforts to improve Service member wellness and delivery of prevention and response efforts crosses multiple disciplines, including public health and prevention-related actions underway, as informed by the 2021 Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault in the Military.
The memorandum on the Next Steps on Suicide Prevention in the Military can be found here.