Air Force leaders at all levels must fight the problem of suicides within the service by developing a culture of healthy airmen across the board, said the service’s top enlisted man Thursday.
“We’ve got to talk about” the problem of airman suicides openly, look at suicide rates, discuss lessons learned from suicides and even acknowledge “saves,” said Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, James Roy, during an April 5 luncheon on Capitol Hill.
“Some have said, don’t talk about it, I just throw that aside,” said Roy. “When somebody commits suicide, some people would say that I shouldn’t be sharing the [suicide] numbers the way I share them. Why not? How do I tell what happened last April or last March if I don’t show you where we are today? How do I compare the two?”
The Air Force lost 99 airmen in 2010 to suicides, 90 in 2011 and 35 so far in 2012, making suicide the service’s leading cause of death, according to slides presented by Roy during his presentation.
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