Title

The US Air Force Suicide Prevention Program: Implications for Public Health Policy

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

12-2010

Abstract

Objectives. We evaluated the effectiveness of the US Air Force Suicide Prevention Program (AFSPP) in reducing suicide, and we measured the extent to which air force installations implemented the program.

Methods. We determined the AFSPP's impact on suicide rates in the air force by applying an intervention regression model to data from 1981 through 2008, providing 16 years of data before the program's 1997 launch and 11 years of data after launch. Also, we measured implementation of program components at 2 points in time: during a 2004 increase in suicide rates, and 2 years afterward.

Results. Suicide rates in the air force were significantly lower after the AFSPP was launched than before, except during 2004. We also determined that the program was being implemented less rigorously in 2004.

Conclusions. The AFSPP effectively prevented suicides in the US Air Force. The long-term effectiveness of this program depends upon extensive implementation and effective monitoring of implementation. Suicides can be reduced through a multilayered, overlapping approach that encompasses key prevention domains and tracks implementation of program activities.

DOI

10.2105/AJPH.2009.159871