The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) sent a letter today to the Senate Appropriation Defense Subcommittee Chair Richard Durbin and Ranking Member Thad Cochran seeking their action and support for an amendment to the FY 2015 Department of Defense Appropriations Bill, H.R. 4870, which will set aside funds for a study on the links between financial stresses and service member suicides.
While the circumstances surrounding suicide are often varied and complex, AFSP has seen many anecdotal reports linking instances of military suicide to financial stress or financial abuse. However, to date, there appears to have been no comprehensive, data-driven study of the links between financial stress or financial abuse and military suicide.
AFSP believes the amendment would assist the DOD in better understanding the circumstances surrounding a service member’s death and ultimately prevent suicide by studying:
- The effects of financial stress and financial abuse on illness, including suicide, among military personnel;
- The ability of military personnel to receive adequate, unbiased, comprehensive financial planning and counseling;
- Any obstacles that prevent military personnel from seeking such services;
- The number of military personnel whose security clearances have been withdrawn due to their personal financial problems, whether that withdrawal impacts financial well-being and mental health, and whether DOD provides effective services to personnel at risk of losing their clearances for this reason; and
- Recommendations for how DOD and other agencies can provide better financial planning and counseling, including ways to increase the connections between the mental health professionals and financial planning professionals who serve military personnel.
The FY 2015 Defense Appropriations bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives included a provision that reserved funds for this critical study. AFSP believes this study will provide key insight and information that can critical to preventing suicide among our nation’s service members.