Military moves to reduce suicides but postpones action on guns – The Morning Call

TARA COPP and LOLITA C. BALDOR (Associated Press)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ordered improved access to mental health care to reduce suicides in the military on Thursday, but he has taken steps to limit gun and ammunition purchases by young troops. Deferred endorsement of controversial recommendations and sent them to the United States. Another panel for research.

In late February, the independent commission told the Pentagon to impose a series of measures, including a waiting period for military personnel to purchase firearms and ammunition at military installations, and a minimum age of 25 for military personnel to purchase firearms and ammunition. Advised to implement gun safety measures. .

In a memo released Thursday, Austin called for the establishment of a suicide prevention working group to “assess the adequacy and feasibility” of the recommendations made by the first study panel. This includes gun countermeasures. He also asked for cost estimates and an explanation of “barriers” to implementing other changes, a deadline he set for the report on June 2nd. He never specifically mentioned gun suggestions or gun safety.

His order reflects growing concern over suicide in the military. This is despite programs and other efforts to prevent suicide that have been in place over his decade and have encouraged interventions by commanders, friends and family. But his omission of gun safety and control measures altogether underscores the potential for them to face stubborn resistance, especially in Congress, where such legislation has struggled in recent years.

Faster change addresses broader access to care.

To provide assistance more quickly to troops that may be struggling, Austin asked the Pentagon to hire more behavioral health professionals to provide multiple doses per week when patients first seek treatment. I have instructed them to implement a scheduling system for scheduling medical visits.

He also ordered military primary care clinics to screen for unhealthy levels of alcohol use, make treatment for unhealthy alcohol use more accessible, and make mental health care available through primary care for military personnel. .

“Mental health support available to teammates should be comprehensive and accessible,” Austin said in a note.

brig. Pentagon spokesman General Pat Ryder said at a press conference on Thursday that Austin’s order concerns areas where the Pentagon already has the authority to take immediate action.

“While we recognize that there is no single cause of suicide and that preventive measures, treatments and cures alone will not eliminate suicide completely, we will do everything we can to promote the health, well-being and morale of our entire military. “I’ll try my best,” Ryder said.

The first study panel recommended that the Department of Defense require everyone living in military housing to register all privately owned firearms. Additionally, the commission said the department should limit the possession and storage of personally owned firearms in military barracks and dormitories.

The Commission confirmed the findings of the Annual Suicide Report and found that approximately 66% of all suicides in active duty forces and more than 70% of suicides by members of the National Guard and Reserve Forces were committed with firearms. pointed out. Reducing access to guns could prevent some deaths, he said.

Craig Bryan, a clinical psychologist and member of the Independent Review Board for Suicide Prevention and Response, said the department should use military guns, especially bases, to help people under stress survive periods of high risk. said it needed to delay access to guns purchased in stores.

He likened the expanded gun safety measures to requirements the department imposes on motorcycle use, such as mandated helmets. This requirement is often stricter than some state laws. When asked how likely such changes were, Bryan said he believed the military would be more likely than civilians to accept such restrictions.


The National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available by calling 988 or sending a message. We also have an online chat at Military moves to reduce suicides but postpones action on guns – The Morning Call

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