According to a recent report by the Pentagon, among those on active duty in the U.S. military the suicide rate went down in 2013 to pretty much the same among civilians when you adjust according to demographics.
The Defense Department Suicide Event Report of 2013 shows that among active-duty personnel in 2013, the suicide rate was 18.7 per 100,000. This was below the suicide rate of 22.7 per 100,000 reported for 2012.
When you separate the various rates according to military service per 100,000 members, you find there were 23 serving in the Army, 23.1 serving in the Marines, 14.4 serving in the Air Force, and 13.4 serving in the Navy.
According to calculations done by the Army and the National Institutes of Mental Health, the suicide rate among civilians of the same age group and socio-economic status as service members, is 18.8 per 100,000 civilians.
Although this looks like good news for the military leaders has to be tempered by the news that these figures do not apply to reserve components or the Guard, whose rate of suicide remains significantly higher than the rates among civilians. In 2013, the suicide rate for those serving in the Army reserves was 23.4 per 100,000, and for those in the National Guard, the rate was 28.9 per 100,000. These rates apply to all members serving in the reserves and National Guard, whether the suicides occurred during active duty or when doing drills.
According to the 2013 report, 259 active-duty troops committed suicide, which was lower than the 319 who took their lives in 2012. These included 115 Army soldiers, 45 Marines, 43 in the Air Force, and 42 Navy sailors.
During that same year, 220 serving in the Guard and Selected Reserve died by suicide, which included 133 in the Guard and 87 in the Reserves. This is an increase of 203 from 2012. There are many warning signs of suicide among military personnel.
The 2013 reported showed that enlisted males of 17 to 24 years of age who were white were at the highest risk of suicide. Over 90% of those who took their lives were male, 75% of them were Caucasian with 42% being 17 to 24 years of age.
According to the 2013 report, two-thirds of those committing suicide had deployed, which was a change from 2012 when less than half who took their lives had deployed. However, in 2013, only 15% of those who committed suicide had been involved in direct combat.
Almost two-thirds had met with a doctor within the three months before committing suicide, but less than half had received a mental health diagnosis with less than one-third had said anything about planning to harm themselves or take their lives, according to the report.
More than half of them were married, with a firearm in the home.
Twenty-two had prescriptions for multiple medications when they took their lives, and 12 of them actually had been diagnosed with a brain injury.
In addition to looking at completed suicides, the report also analyzes 1,800 reported attempted suicides, which offers valuable information to help direct mental health as well as wellness programs for military personnel in the last year.
The 2013 report revealed that 54% of attempted suicide involved drugs and 41% involved some form of prescription medication(s).
The Department of Defense has released the numbers for confirmed or suspected suicides among active-duty personnel for 2014, and it came to 288. This is just preliminary data, so the Pentagon says it will be adjusted as more information becomes available about individual deaths. But at this point they are reporting 135 suicides among those in the Army, 60 Air Force deaths, 58 deaths among those in the Navy and 35 among those in the Marines.
If you or someone you love is considering suicide, please call us immediately!