The overall number of suicides in the US military declined in 2022 compared to the year before, but the rate per 100,000 active duty troops rose slightly, according to data released on Thursday.

“Fewer service members died by suicide in 2022 than in 2021,” Elizabeth Foster — the executive director of the Office of Force Resiliency — told journalists. Pentagon data shows there were 492 military suicides in 2022, compared to 524 in 2021.However, because the size of the military fluctuates from year to year, the Defence Department also tracks suicide rates per 100,000 personnel. That data shows a three percent increase in the rate of suicides among active duty troops, while the rate for reserve and National Guard forces decreased by 12 and 18 percent respectively.“Because the size of the force is smaller in 2022, despite the reduction in suicide deaths, we did see a very slight increase in the suicide rate for the active component,” Foster said. Overall, 69 percent of the military suicides in 2022 involved firearms.Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin last month approved more than 100 recommendations aimed at curbing military suicides. Some of them were aimed at addressing the use of firearms in suicides, including offering incentives to troops for the purchase of secure firearms storage, adding content on safe storage to firearms proficiency training, and providing additional storage options on bases.However, other gun-related recommendations — including waiting periods for the purchase of guns and ammunition on Department of Defense property, as well as raising the minimum age for both to 25 — were not approved.Firearm regulation is a highly contentious issue in the United States, with conservative politicians opposing most restrictions aimed at curbing the frequent gun violence plaguing the country.

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