2019 was a dismal year for the US Air Force when it came to suicides, reaching record-breaking heights that the service never wishes to surpass again.
Around 137 Airmen across all components took their own lives last year, a thirty-three percent boost over the 2018 numbers.
“Suicide is a difficult national problem without easily identifiable solutions that has the full attention of leadership,” said Lt. Gen. Brian Kelly, who serves as deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services. “The Department of the Air Force has been and continues to pursue immediate, mid-term, and long-range suicide prevention initiatives for the total force that focus on connections between individuals, units, and Air Force family; protections in environments, services, and policies; detection of risk in individuals and units; and equipping the total force and family members to mitigate risk and increase resilience.”
According to leaked slides obtained by Military.com via a social media page, Active duty Air Force personnel led the way with around 84 suicides in all, and 68 of the aforementioned deaths being “suspected” suicides.
Between January and July alone, 78 Airmen took their own lives.
In a video released to USAF commands, Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright encouraged everyone to be kinder to each other, and to prevent suicide through meaningful interaction.
“It makes a big difference if you walk into a work center where you feel like, ‘Hey, I’m a valued member of his team, and my supervisor, my teammates, they care about the things that I’m going through’ versus, ‘Hey, nobody cares,'” Wright said. “This is about making airmen feel valued.”
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