Army Leaders Want More Focus on Suicide Prevention

Army Leaders Want More Focus on Suicide Prevention

Soldier on patrol in training
Photo by: U.S. Army

Army Secretary Christine Wormuth says efforts are underway to tackle issues that might cause a service member to consider suicide, citing behavioral health and financial issues and relationship problems as possible causes.  

“We have a historically high rate of suicide in the Army right now, which is very concerning,” she told the House Armed Services Committee. Part of the response comes in team-building efforts that make soldiers feel more connected to their families, squad mates and leaders, she said. “If they have those connections, we have a better opportunity to get ahead of any potential problems.” 

The Army reported 377 suicides by active-duty members in 2020, a slight increase over the 348 deaths in 2019. 

Wormuth promised no quick solutions. “It is going to take consistent year-after-year focus and effort,” she said. “I think we are just going to have to continue working on it.” 

This is a deeply concerning issue for the new secretary. “I’ve been in the job four weeks. I get emails every week, more than once, telling me that one of our soldiers had committed suicide. It is extremely disheartening and tragic. We need to focus on it more.” 

“It breaks my heart to lose people to suicide,” said Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville. “It breaks my heart to lose any soldiers. There is always something there about why did this soldier not have the will to live? What would make them be in that position where they no longer want to live?”