News Details

Military suicides down from last year

By Patricia Kime, Staff writer

Source: Army Times
Published: Monday 13 July, 2015

Suicides among active-duty troops dropped in the first quarter of 2015 compared to the same time in both 2013 and 2014.

Tempering that good news: The Army, alone among the services, saw an increase, accounting for more than half the total number of service members who died by their own hand from January to March, according to Defense Department data released Friday.

Over that span, 57 active-duty troops — 30 soldiers, 14 airmen, 10 sailors and three Marines — died by suicide, a 22 percent decline from the first quarter of 2014 and a 7 percent drop from 2013's first quarter.

But while the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps all saw lower death tolls, the Army's increase totaled 11 percent from the first quarters of 2013 and 2014.

Army suicides have remained stubbornly high for the last two years despite an all-out effort by the service to emphasize suicide prevention and promote mental health treatment. The service also is in the midst of a personnel drawdown that should have an impact on the numbers, but has not.

The new DoD report also includes data for the first quarter of 2015 for the reserve components, which tallied 42 suicides, and the National Guard, which had 27.

The newly released report also includes updates on the number of suicides for 2014, when a total of 532 personnel killed themselves, including 273 active-duty members, 169 reservists and 90 guardsmen.

Those figures are slightly higher than the military had previously reported earlier this year, but those figures were considered preliminary because DoD continues to investigate suicides after releasing initial information along with warnings that the data are subject to change.

According to the new figures, active-duty personnel who died by suicide in 2014 included 124 soldiers, 53 sailors, 62 airmen and 34 Marines. Earlier data put the toll at 122 soldiers, 53 sailors, 59 airmen and 34 Marines.

For the Air Force, 2014 represents the highest number of suicides on record by active-duty personnel since 2000.

Suicides peaked in 2012 at 321 active-duty members, 192 reservists and 130 guardsmen.

Military suicides rose from 2006 to 2009 before leveling off for two years. They then increased sharply in 2012 — something of a surprise, given that combat operations had ceased in Iraq and were winding down in Afghanistan.

An analysis of suicide data from 2013 found that those at highest risk include young, white, enlisted males aged 17 to 24; those diagnosed with a mental health condition; those who faced some sort of trouble in the service, either criminal or administrative; or recently experienced a relationship loss.

Troops or military family members experiencing a mental health crisis can get help by calling the Veterans Crisis Line at 800-273-8255 and pressing 1.

Original Article