Military suicides have dropped significantly—more than 22 percent this year. That’s great news, but what has puzzled military officials is why. The Defense Department has launched a series of new suicide prevention programs, but whether those efforts have had any real impact on the reduced rates remains unclear, officials admit.
Furthermore, given that many of the soldiers that ended their lives in recent years were not engaged directly in combat, the drop also cannot be attributed to the end of the Iraq war or the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
What is known, however, is that military life takes an emotional toll not just on service members, but their families as well. A new study conducted by USC shows that adolescents from military families are more likely to experience depression and contemplate suicide than their non-military counterparts. The study was published online this week by the Journal of Adolescent Health.
Kristina Kaufmann, Executive Director, Code of Support Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to bridging the gap between civilian and military America
Ian Smith, former Marine; USC social work student
Julie Cederbaum, Associate Professor, USC School of Social Work; lead author of new study showing teens in military families are at higher risk of poor mental health outcomes
Susan Lindau, clinician and associate professor of military social work at USC; Licensed by the Department of Defense to work with active-duty soldiers