Military report shows steady rise in suicides among active-duty service members

Military reports increase in active-duty suicides
Military reports increase in active-duty suic... 01:49

The military has released troubling figures showing a steady rise in suicides. Nearly 500 service members died by suicide last year — and this year, deaths by suicide are up by nearly a third, triggering a major effort to find out why.

Staff Sergeant Jason Lowe was a paratrooper with the Elite 82nd Airborne. In August, he took his own life, leaving his heartbroken father struggling to find answers.

"Not an indication that anything was wrong, and it's just, we're still shocked," said Jason Lowe's father, Tom. "We have no idea, and that's the worst part."

Jason Lowe was one of 15 suicides at Fort Bragg this year — by far the leading cause of death there. It's part of an alarming 30% spike in suicides among all active duty soldiers.

"We noticed in the month of April an increase in the number of suicides, and we decided to take action," said General Joseph Martin, the Army's vice chief of staff.  

When asked whether he thinks COVID-19 has anything to do with what's happening, Martin responded, "It's too early to tell."

Whatever the cause, Martin said the Army has to recognize when a soldier is struggling. 

"Everybody's got a breaking point," Martin said. "The question is who's going to see when I'm getting close to that breaking point and say, 'Hey, I think you need some help.'"

Tom Lowe was close to his son but didn't see it coming, so he's not sure what the Army can do — but he said it has to do something.

"When you see that many suicides, you can't help but say, 'No, it's not enough being done. You got to find a different way,'" Tom Lowe said.

This year at Fort Bragg three times more soldiers have died by suicide than were killed by the enemy.


Need help? Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) Military veterans press 1. Individuals can also go to: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/talk-to-someone-now and veterans can go to woundedwarriorproject.org or call the project's resource center at 1-888-997-2586.

  • David Martin

    David Martin is CBS News' National Security Correspondent.