Rand: How to reduce U.S. military suicides

Feb. 21, 2011 at 6:52 PM
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SANTA MONICA, Calif., Feb. 21 (UPI) -- The U.S. military should be made better aware of the advantages of confidential help for any psychological problems, a Rand Corp. report says.

Lead author Rajeev Ramchand of the Rand Corp. says the U.S. military suicide rate has increased sharply since 2001, from about 10 per 100,000 service members to nearly 16 per 100,000 service members in 2008.

"Efforts should focus on changing the culture at all levels of the military to encourage those in distress to seek help along with efforts to identify and intervene with service members who are at risk of suicide," Ramchand says in a statement. "While the military already has made many important changes, there is still more that can be done."

The U.S. Department of Defense asked the Rand Corp. to evaluate information about military suicides.

Rand's research produced the following recommendations:

-- Track suicides and attempts systematically and consistently across all services using the same criteria.

-- Raise awareness and promote self-care by encouraging those in need to seek help.

-- Improve efforts to identify those at risk for suicide.

-- Facilitate access to quality care by making service members aware of the benefits.

-- Develop procedures to restrict access to lethal means for those at high risk.

-- Provide military leaders with guidelines on how to respond to suicides that occur under their command.

The report can be found at rand.org.

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