The US Air Force has revealed that the number of airmen and civilian employees committing suicide rose by more than a third last year.
A total of 137 airmen — across active duty, Guard and Reserve — and civilian employees died by suicide in 2019, a 33 percent increase from the previous year.
The figure is the highest annual number since the Air Force began keeping an official record in 2008.
A total of 59 airmen and civilians have died since officials raised concerns over rising suicide levels in the Air Force in August last year, despite a one-day stand-down being announced to focus on prevention.
Kaleth Wright, Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, said 78 airmen had taken their own lives so far that year, which amounts to 28 more than at the same point in 2018.
Lieutenant General Brian Kelly, deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services for the Air Force, told Military.com on Monday: ‘Suicide is a difficult national problem without easily identifiable solutions that has the full attention of leadership.
‘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.’
Men are statistically more likely to die by suicide than women, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Men make up around 80 percent of the active-duty Air Force.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Hannah Skellern