Eight. That’s the number of U.S. troops who attempt suicide every single day. Since 2006, suicide rates in the military have jumped significantly. In 2012 so far, the Pentagon reports 154 suicides in 155 days in the Army alone—one suicide a day, not including military family members or non-activated National Guard/Reserves.
This number far outweighs—by 50 percent—the number of U.S. troops killed in action in Afghanistan this year.
FOX News reports: “The numbers reflect a military burdened with wartime demands from Iraq and Afghanistan that have taken a greater toll than foreseen a decade ago. The military also is struggling with increased sexual assaults, alcohol abuse, domestic violence and other misbehavior.”
The suicide crisis is “one of the most complex and urgent problems” the military is facing, according to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. Record numbers of troops are returning from overseas deployment, carrying the wounds of traumatic exposure. Reintegration challenges, an uncertain economy and family issues only exacerbate the prevalence of posttraumatic stress.
And the tragedy is this: Many U.S. troops feel that seeking out help for mental health challenges is shameful and unacceptable. After all, no one wants to be seen as a “wimp.” To some, suicide becomes the only viable option in the midst of isolation, trauma and hopelessness.
Major General (ret.) Bob Dees, AACC’s Military Director, said in an interview yesterday, “This is an urgent time in the life of our military. The unprecedented suicide rates, as well as challenging mental and behavioral health issues, need to be addressed now. We must get everything in the fight, including faith-based mental health resources. AACC members can play a tremendous role in this process, ultimately bringing the help, hope, and healing of Jesus to those who so desperately need it.”
At the AACC, we take this matter very seriously. In response to this critical issue, our organization has established a Military Counseling Initiative in order to:
- Call the 50,000 counselors and caregivers in our membership to action—standing in the gap to provide mental health care for our military
- Increase awareness about the priority and urgency of mental health needs among U.S. troops
- Provide training, resources and advocacy on behalf of military servicemen and women and their families from a faith-based perspective
- Network like-minded counselors and caregivers who are offering services in this area
Want to get involved? Here’s how:
- Read the latest issue of our magazine Christian Counseling Today, focused on Trauma, Military Care and Counsel.
- E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts, questions or suggestions and keep your eyes open for the AACC Military Counseling Initiative website, set to launch soon!
- Attend General Dees’ workshop, “Resilient Responses to Trauma: Bouncing Back in the Midst of Life’s Challenges” at our upcoming 2012 National Conference, as well as the Military Mixer on Friday Night.
- Sign up for the upcoming AACC Webinar on “Resiliency, Combat Trauma, and Military Suicide” on November 13, 2012. Just visit www.counseltalk.net.
How can you make a difference? Take a moment to share your thoughts below and to read the full Fox News report, click here.