BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — A new report from the Pentagon shows suicides among those on active duty dropped more than 20 percent compared to this time last year.
“Take that step and you will see that light was with you the entire way,” said Rogers. Suicide isn’t the answer.”
Grant Rogers with Veterans of Foreign Wars is talking about taking that step of getting help.
According to The Annual Report on Suicide in the Military, fewer service members died by suicide in 2021 than in 2020. In 2021, 519 service members took their life and in 2020 that number was 582.
Advocates say while this is progress, it’s still one too many.
“We know PTSD occurs from incidents that are happening on the battlefield. So soldiers may be experiencing these issues while they are still deployed,” said Brandee Patrick, Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs.
Data shows new mental health programs are helping with the decline in military deaths, but the Defense Department still lacks mental health personnel to help end the stigma of seeking help.
“As long as we have a number saying we’ve had this many veteran suicides, we still have work to do,” said Patrick. “I think great strides have been made, not only in awareness with mental health but also awareness with the soldiers, with these servicemembers.”
In 2021, roughly 94% of military suicides were men, according to the Pentagon.
Brandee Patrick with the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs says loved ones should look out for red flags like isolation and mood swings. She says it’s important to help make those who need help, feel loved.
“We just want to embrace them and let them know it’s okay to not be okay,” she said.
“To anyone watching or listening to this, you are not alone,” said Rogers.
The following resources can help those seeking help:
If someone you know is dealing with PTSD or suicidal thoughts you can call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255.