Researchers analyzed suicide rates among more than 5 million service men and women before and after the Air Force implemented a program aimed at reducing an alarmingly high rate of suicide seen among Air Force personnel.
The suicide rate had been particularly higher for black and white males ages 24 to 35, between 1990 and 1994. The key components of the ongoing program are to provide support for soldiers facing mental health or psychosocial problems, with an emphasis on removing the stigma associated with seeking help for such problems. The program consists of multiple community prevention efforts involving agencies inside and outside the health care sector.
According to a report, suicides are down 33 percent since the program was put into place in 1997.In addition researchers have also noted a decrease in several other factors thought to be associated with the community-wide effort, such as homicide, family violence, and accidental death.
Researchers believe these findings suggest a similar program might be effective in other settings. They say "The key lessons derived from this community-based intervention may be particularly adaptable in selected workplace contexts that are more tightly organized and provide or coordinate human services for their employees or in settings with naturally occurring social networks. These could include police and fire fighters, other elements of the armed services worldwide, larger corporations, states or smaller countries, and schools and universities."