Suicide Postvention in the Department of Defense: Evidence, Policies and Procedures, and Perspectives of Loss Survivors
RAND NATIONAL DEFENSE RESEARCH INST SANTA MONICA CA
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The U.S. Department of Defense DoD has been struggling with increasing rates of suicide among military personnel for the past decade. As DoD continues to implement new programs and examine its policies in an effort to prevent military personnel from taking their own lives, it is important to assess its current responses to suicide and to identify opportunities to enhance these programs and policies. Unfortunately, there is little scientific evidence on how best to respond to suicides, how to ensure that surveillance activities are managed appropriately and that loss survivors are given sufficient support to grieve, how additional suicides can be prevented, and how to honor and respect the decedent and his or her loved ones. At the same time, there are many resource guides intended to provide recommendations for organizations mostly schools in responding to suicides. A review of the existing scientific evidence on postvention responses to prevent additional suicides in the aftermath of a suicide and guidance for other types of organizations provides potential insights for DoD, however. Complemented by the perspectives of those most intimately touched by military suicide the family and friends of those who have died these sources may help DoD formulate its guidance in a practical and sensitive way.
- Sociology and Law