WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – A growing number of lawmakers say they are concerned about a recent spike in military suicides. They are introducing laws to force the Pentagon to do more.
A recent report shows that annual military suicides rose 15% in 2020.
Legislators across the board are citing the trend as alarming but saying there are clear guidelines in place based on a recently released government surveillance report that, if applied, could help curb military suicides.
Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, signals an SOS.
“We absolutely have to increase our resources,” said Ernst. “We are facing great challenges.”
Because of this, Ernst and a group of more than two dozen bipartisan senators have passed legislation to force the Pentagon to do more to help.
Your bill that Save Our Servicemembers (SOS) Act, would force the Department of Defense to review its current suicide prevention programs and improve data on the problem.
“We just want you to know that we are taking care of you, we appreciate your service,” said Ernst.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin describes the trend in military suicides as a matter of concern. While Pentagon officials say they can’t explain the cause of the surge, they vow to bring it down.
Bonnie Carroll is the founder of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. She has also worked with the Pentagon to highlight her struggles.
“There are things we can do,” said Carroll. “We work with loved ones to understand the journey of their loved ones… What these families identified weren’t the things you usually think, they really weren’t. It was more about sleep deprivation, chronic pain, nerve damage … toxic leadership. “
Carroll says while more resources would help, she believes awareness must be a top priority.
“There can never be enough resources … What we have to do is normalize the behavior of those seeking help,” said Carroll. “There is help and it works.”
It is unclear if and when the law could be passed. Meanwhile, proponents of suicide prevention say help is on the way. Come in July that National lifeline for suicide prevention can be easily reached by calling 988.
If you or someone you know has thoughts of suicide, help is always available over the phone National lifeline for suicide prevention at 1.80.273.TALK.
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