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Health

Good news: Suicides among US military personnel have suddenly dropped

Pentagon officials are 'cautiously encouraged' by the numbers.

military suicides

Finally some improved stats concerning military suicides.

It's no secret that the U.S. military has been battling a suicide problem. Since 9/11, more U.S. military personnel have died by suicide than have died in combat. Suicide rates among U.S. military personnel are higher than the civilian population and have been steadily increasing for the past two decades. In fact, a study released in 2021 reported that "2018, 2019, and 2020 have consecutively marked the worst years of active service member suicide since the previous peak year in 2012."

However, the numbers since 2020 tell a different story—one that offers a glimmer of hope.

According to a new Pentagon report and preliminary data for 2022 reported by PBS News, there has been a dramatic decrease in suicides among active duty military in the past 18 months. The Air Force and Marine Corps saw a more than 30% drop from 2020 to 2021, while the Navy saw its numbers of suicides decrease by 10%. The Army had a slight increase from 2020 to 2021, but has had a 30% decline during the first six months of 2022 compared to the first six months of 2021.


The numbers in different branches have gone up and down in the past 18 months, leaving questions on the table about whether those downward trends are likely to continue, but according to Beth Foster, the executive director of the Pentagon's Force Resiliency Office, the 15% drop across the board leaves Pentagon officials "cautiously encouraged."

The biggest question, of course, is what is driving these numbers. There have been concerted efforts to increase mental health awareness and support in the military, such as required counseling visits, education about stress relief and recreational outings, according to PBS News. However, such efforts have also been an uphill climb due to mental health personnel shortages and stigmas surrounding help-seeking.

As Dr. Dorothy Kaplan wrote in her guidance for clinicians in 2019, "Mental health stigma in the military is strongly grounded in military culture and is linked to a desire to handle problems on one’s own."

"Interestingly," she added, "service members who report psychological health concerns are most likely to perceive stigma and anticipate negative outcomes for seeking care, including career harm."

Maj. Gen. Eric Little, head of manpower and personnel for the National Guard, told PBS News that security clearance and flying eligibility can be affected in some cases when service members report seeking counseling, but officials are working to change such policies.

More successful mental health interventions and changing attitudes toward mental health treatment in general may be contributing to the drop in active duty military suicides. However, 2020 and 2021 also had a big confounding factor: the COVID-19 pandemic.

Suicides overall in the U.S. declined in 2019 and again in 2020 before climbing again in 2021. The active duty military numbers do not appear to parallel that trend, so it's difficult to say what impact the pandemic may have had on active duty personnel suicides. Causes of military suicides are multifaceted and figuring out how to address them is complex.


More time and data will be needed to determine whether this drop in suicide numbers is a trend or a blip. However, the Defense Department continues to address the issue through various channels across the different branches of the military. According to CBS News, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin created a Suicide Prevention and Response Independent Review Committee earlier this year and will be presenting a report on its progress to Congress in February 2023.

“Every death by suicide is a tragedy that impacts our people, our military units and our [combat] readiness,” Austin said in a statement on October 20. “That’s why we remain committed to a comprehensive and integrated approach to suicide prevention. Going forward, we are standing up a dedicated prevention workforce to strengthen our efforts to address suicide and other challenging areas. The scale of this workforce is unprecedented and reflects our commitment to make lasting change.”

It's great to finally see some more positive news on the military suicides front. Hopefully we'll keep seeing those numbers drop.

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The last thing children should have to worry about is where their next meal will come from. But the unfortunate reality is food insecurity is all too common in this country.

In an effort to help combat this pressing issue, KFC is teaming up with Blessings in a Backpack to provide nearly 70,000 meals to families in need and spread holiday cheer along the way.

The KFC Sharemobile, a holiday-edition charitable food truck, will be making stops at schools in Chicago, Orlando, and Houston in December to share KFC family meals and special gifts for a few select families to address specific needs identified by their respective schools.

These cities were chosen based on the high level of food insecurity present in their communities and hardships they’ve faced, such as a devastating hurricane season in Florida and an unprecedented winter storm in Houston. In 2021, five million children across the US lived in food-insecure households, according to the USDA.

“Sharing a meal with family or friends is a special part of the holidays,” said Nick Chavez, CMO of KFC U.S. “Alongside our franchisees, we wanted to make that possible for even more families this holiday season.”

KFC will also be making a donation to Blessings in a Backpack, a nonprofit that works to provide weekend meals to school-aged children across America who might otherwise go hungry.

“The generous donations from KFC could not have come at a better time, as these communities have been particularly hard-hit this year with rising food costs, inflation and various natural disasters,” Erin Kerr, the CEO of Blessings in a Backpack, told Upworthy. “Because of KFC’s support, we’re able to spread holiday cheer by donating meals for hunger-free weekends and meet each community’s needs,” Kerr said.

This isn’t the first time KFC has worked with Blessings in a Backpack. The fried chicken chain has partnered with the nonprofit for the last six years, donating nearly $1 million dollars. KFC employees also volunteer weekly to package and provide meals to students in Louisville, Kentucky who need food over the weekend.

KFC franchisees are also bringing the Sharemobile concept to life in markets across the country through local food donations and other holiday giveback moments. Ampex Brands, a KFC franchisee based in Dallas, recently held its annual Day of Giving event and donated 11,000 meals to school children in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.

If you’d like to get involved, you can make a donation to help feed students in need at kfc.com/kfcsharemobile. Every bit helps, but a donation of $150 helps feed a student on the weekends for an entire 38-week school year, and a donation as low as $4 will feed a child for a whole weekend.

Celine Dion spoke directly to her fans on social media.

Celine Dion has shared the devastating news that she has been diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder called stiff person syndrome.

In an emotional video to her fans, the 54-year-old French-Canadian singer apologized for taking so long to reach out and explained that her health struggles have been difficult to talk about.

"As you know, I have always been an open book, and I wasn't ready to say anything before. But I'm ready now."

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Adam Sandler and Brendan Fraser for Variety's "Actors on Actors."

There are few actors in this world as universally loved as Brendan Fraser and Adam Sandler. So when the two sign on to interview one another, you can bet that people are going to be thrilled.

During one of Variety's “Actors on Actors” segments, the two swapped stories of being in the entertainment business—from the movie “Airheads," which they both starred in, to more recent projects like Sandler’s “Hustle” and Fraser’s “The Whale.”

It’s clear that these two respect and admire each other’s work. Sandler applauded Fraser’s career-long stride of making bold and interesting choices, and especially commended him for his starring role in Darren Aronofsky’s “The Whale,” which has been hailed as a major comeback for the “Mummy” franchise star.
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Tenacious D performs at the Rock in Pott festival.

The medley that closes out the second side of the Beatles’ “Abbey Road” album is one of the most impressive displays of musicianship in the band’s storied career. It also provided the perfect send-off before the band’s official breakup months later, ending with the lyrics, “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

In 1969, “Abbey Road” was the last record the group made together, although “Let it Be,” recorded earlier that year, was released in 1970.

At first, the medley was just a clever way for the band to use a handful of half-finished tunes, but when it came together it was a rousing, grandiose affair.

Arranged by Paul McCartney and producer George Martin, the medley weaves together five songs written by McCartney, "You Never Give Me Your Money," "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window," "Golden Slumbers," "Carry That Weight” and "The End," and three by John Lennon, “Sun King," "Mean Mr. Mustard" and "Polythene Pam."

Fifteen seconds after the medley and the album’s conclusion, there is a surprise treat, McCartney’s 22-second “Her Majesty,” which wound up on the record as an accident.

Jack Black and Kyle Gass, collectively known as Tenacious D, recently reimagined two of the songs in the medley, "You Never Give Me Your Money" and "The End," for acoustic guitars for a performance on SiriusXM's Octane Channel. Like everything with Tenacious D, it showed off the duo’s impressive musical chops as well as their fantastic sense of humor.

The truncated version of the medley was also a wonderful tribute to the incredible work the Beatles did 53 years ago.

Warning: This video contains NSFW language.

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13 strangers became stranded at an airport, so they set off on a road trip together

The unlikely friends went viral online after documenting their 10+ hour journey.

@alanahsotry21/TikTok

From strangers to friends in one night.

Sometimes the greatest friendships are born out of the most unlikely circumstances.

Thanks to a canceled flight, 13 complete strangers found themselves stuck at Orlando International Airport on their way to Knoxville, Tennessee, with no way to get to their destination.

What started off as a disaster quickly turned around into an impromptu adventure, as the determined group banded together to rent a minivan and drive more than 500 miles from Orlando to Knoxville. Along the way they documented their travels, and the story was quickly picked up by news outlets like CNN, spreading like wholesome viral wildfire online.


The band of merry travelers hailed from different parts of the U.S. and Mexico, and didn’t all speak the same language. Plus each had their own reason for wanting to get to Knoxville. One college student was trying to make it back in time for her final. Another was hoping to tour her dream college with her mom and dad. A well-known farming influencer was set to deliver a keynote speech at a conference. A mother wanted to go fight for custody of her son, while another woman wanted to meet a friend to help her move. Others were just there to have fun.

Regardless of their differences, their road trip created unexpected community and a memory they won't soon forget.

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