GREAT FALLS, Mont. - Every death by suicide is a tragedy and the number of suicide deaths in the military continues to rise.
As we approach the end of mental health awareness month and near memorial day, I'll be sharing stories and resources on military mental health and suicide awareness.
Service members put their life on the line to protect our country daily.
But as of December 31st, the DoD reports 518 military members have taken their own lives.
Additionally, a recent study done by Brown University shows since 9-11, more active duty members and veterans have died by suicide than in combat.
While they're still under investigation by the air force office of special investigations, I've been told of 3 reported suicides at Malmstrom Air Force Base in the last 3 months.
"One is too many. It hurts to lose one airmen and certainly doesn't feel any better to lose more than one and one hurts the unit, their family, it all hurts... Each loss of an airmen hurts me, and makes me wonder what am I doing wrong that I can't take the hurt away?... It makes me question myself. I've cried because it hurts me, but it's not about me, I cry for their team and then the loss that then they need to fill. And I'm sure a lot of them are questions why couldn't I see this, why couldn't I have helped them," said Col. Anita Feugate Opperman, 341st Wing Commander.
May 23-27 we'll be sharing stories from first responders, MAFB, the Montana Air National Guard, and the Montana Army National Guard that are difficult to tell and difficult to hear but it's something hitting close to home for many Montanans.
Our goal is to be open and honest and make sure no matter what your background is, military or not, you know there is help waiting for you.
Resources available if you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide:
- Military Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255 and press 1
- Text 838255
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
- Text 'MT' to 741 741
Sources for data in the story above: