Suicide Among The US Military Members
The suicide rate among active duty service members in the US military increased by 41.4% in the five years from 2015 to 2020, according to data provided in the annual report from the Department of Defense on suicide in the military. The suicide rate among active duty service members increased by 9.1% in 2020, according to data from the report. From 2018 to 2020, it rose 15.3%.
In 2019, the rate of suicide among active-duty troops was 25.9 per 100,000 troops, according to the Pentagon's annual report on suicide. The rate was 24.9 per 100,000 in 2018, and 21.9 per 100,000 in 2017. The rate has showed a steady increase from 2014, when the rate was 18.5 per 100,000 service members. The suicide rates in the National Guard and reserve components of the military remained stable last year, according to a report. Among all Americans, the suicide rate has increased 35% over the past 20 years, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
"The findings are troubling. Suicide rates among our service members and military families are still too high, and the trends are not going in the right direction," Said the US Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin. Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth and Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. James McConville said in a joint statement: "Suicide remains a significant challenge for our Army. While there is no clear understanding of what is causing the increase in suicides, we realize we have to do better in preventing suicide and ensure resources are available and readily accessible." The department did not see any impact from Covid-19 on statistical suicide rates from 2019 to 2020. However, the report acknowledged that the pandemic could be one of multiple factors that contribute to well being and suicide risk.
Service members who died by suicide in 2020 were "largely enlisted, male and less than 30 years of age," the report said. The majority of service members who died by suicide did so by firearm, followed by hanging or asphyxiation as the second most common method, the report said.
The Army has seen a spike in suicide among its soldiers in Alaska, including six suspected suicides in the first five months of 2021. The Army has spent more than $200 million in recent years to improve the quality of life and prevent suicide on its bases in Alaska.
Suicide is a major national public health issue in the United States. The country has one of the highest suicide rates among wealthy nations. Reports indicate that more active-duty soldiers have died from suicide than in combat in the Iraq War (2003–2011) and War in Afghanistan (2001–2021).
According to the UN Secretary General, around the world, nearly 1 billion people live with a mental disorder. Every 40 seconds, someone dies from suicide. And depression is now recognized as a leading cause of illness and disability among children and adolescents. All of this was true, even before COVID‑19. We are now seeing the consequences of the pandemic on people’s mental well‑being, and this is just the beginning.