From the American Homefront Project:
An independent Pentagon committee formed last year to study military suicide released its report in February, detailing more than 100 recommendations to address the problem.
But while the Department of Defense announced immediate action on a number of the proposals — all focused on various aspects of mental health care – the department deferred action on some of the committee’s strongest recommendations, which addressed access to guns.
Instead, it formed a working group to “assess the advisability and feasibility” of the firearms recommendations, among others.
Suicide rates in the military have been on the rise for the last decade, according to the Defense Department.
Craig Bryan, a clinical psychologist and professor at Ohio State University, said addressing access to firearms is especially important to combating suicides in the military because service members are more likely to use guns to kill themselves.
Bryan, an Air Force veteran of the Iraq War, was among the experts who wrote February’s report. The committee spent almost a year researching military suicides.
He said that while just over half of all suicides in the U.S. involve a firearm, that number increases to two-thirds among military suicides. In the National Guard, the rate is four-fifths.
He said the committee heard over and over again from military leaders who were in the dark when it came to which of their service members even owned guns.
“We were really struck — we’re hearing multiple times from military lawyers, investigators … ‘the way that we discovered this service member had firearms on base was when they used it to kill themselves,'” Bryan said.