The number of suicides of men and women in the U.S. miltiary is down this year, amid growing concerns over high suicide levels the past four years, 1200 WOAI news reports.
The Army says the number of suicides in its active duty, reserve, and National Guard units is down 22% from 2012.
So does this mean that special programs implemented to combat the disturbing number of suicides in the miltiary are working? Dr. Harry Croft is a San Antonio psychiatrist who works extensively with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder patients.
"The real answer is, we don't yet know exactly why the suicide numbers are down," Dr. Croft said. "We are thrilled that they are down."
The Pentagon implemented several programs as suicides spiked in 2011 and 2012. They have involved programs which urge military members to speak out if they are feeling suicidal, and officers have repeatedly stressed that reporting feelings of suicide will not affect the soldier's chances for promotion and security clearence. The fear of derailing a career or being considered 'crazy' was seen as a major drawback to effective efforts to fight suicide in the ranks.
"There is improved awareness of PTSD and other problems are all very important reasons why the numbers are decreasing," Croft said.
The Army has instituted a worldwide program called 'Ready and Resilient' to urge soldiers to speak out. Post commanders have also been instructed to implement suicide prevention programs, and private psychiatrists, like Dr. Croft, have all become part of the solution.
"The troop strength is drawing down," Croft said. "There are more programs in place to help military members from transitioning out."
Croft and other experts who work on military suicide say treatment and outreach programs must continue, even after the soldier has left the Army. The military says it is committed to making sure that they don't repeat the problems that followed the War in Vietnam, where veterans were too frequently deemed 'dangerous' or 'a potential head case' simply because they had served in the war.