November 26, 1999 / Vol. 48 / No. 46
1053 Suicide Prevention Among Active Duty Air Force Personnel — United States, 1990–1999
1057 Progress Toward Poliomyelitis Eradication — Eastern Mediterranean Region, 1998–October 1999
Suicide Prevention Among Active Duty Air Force Personnel — United States, 1990–1999
Duirindge1990–1994,esuicide accounted for 23% of all deaths among active duty U.S. Air Force (USAF) personnel and was the second leading cause of death (after uninten- tional injuries) (Table 1). During those years, the annual suicide rate among active duty USAF personnel increased significantly (p<0.01) from 10.0 to 16.4 suicides per 100,000 members (Figure 1). In 1995, senior USAF leaders initiated prevention programs in several commands because of the increasing suicide rate. In May 1996, an in-depth study by a team of medical and nonmedical civilian and military experts was initiated to produce a comprehensive, communitywide prevention strategy that viewed suicide not only as a medical but a USAF problem, thus addressing overall social, behavior, and health issues (1 ). The plan was implemented across the entire USAF during 1996– 1997. This report describes protective and prevention strategies and summarizes the study findings, which indicate that a substantial decline in the suicide rate was associ- ated with the communitywide program.
The team’s suicide prevention strategy encompassed nearly all the USAF commu- nity (e.g., investigative agencies, military justice, and prevention and treatment ser- vices) and focused on reducing suicide by emphasizing early interventions, and strengthening protective factors (e.g., a sense of belonging and caring, effective cop- ing skills, and policies that promote help-seeking behavior). These goals correspond to recommendations made by the United Nations (UN) and World Health Organization (WHO) to governments and local communities in developing suicide prevention strategies (2 ). The initiatives were divided into three categories corresponding to
TABLE 1. Causes of death among active duty U.S. Air Force personnel — United States, 1990–1994
% of all deaths