Suicide among active-duty service members surged last summer, at the initial peak of the COVID-19 pandemic but evened off in the final quarter of 2020, Military Times reported, based on the Pentagon’s latest preliminary data. Among active-duty personnel, there were 377 deaths by suicide in 2020, about an 8% jump over the year before.

Among reservists, however, death by suicide spiked in the final quarter of 2020 – a 128% increase over the same quarter the year before. Most of those were in the National Guard.

The Pentagon is careful not to draw conclusions on cause and stress that the figures are likely to change before a final report on the previous year’s deaths by suicide is released each fall.

“At this time, it’s too early to determine whether suicide rates are going to show an increase or decrease for calendar year 2020,” DOD spokesman John Kirby told reporters last week.

Meanwhile, the demand for mental health services and suicide prevention at the Department of Veterans Affairs threatens to leave VA staff members burned out or exhausted, a recent Government Accountability Office report said, according to Government Executive.

Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Lance Cheung