Suicide Rate for Active Duty Troops 48% Higher Than National Rate

Ali Meyer | February 23, 2015 | 3:55pm EST
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U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan. (AP)

( - In 2013, the suicide rate among members of the U.S. armed services on active duty was 18.7 per 100,000, according to data from the Department of Defense (DOD) That was 48 percent higher than the suiced rate among the general population, which was 12.6 per 100,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

The DOD’s 2013 Suicide Event Report--the “Department’s principal suicide surveillance tool,” which collects and reports data on “suicide event information, behavioral health diagnosis, psychosocial efforts, demographics, and deployment history”--indicates there were 259 active duty service members who committed suicide in 2013. That was a rate of 18.7 per 100,000 service members.

Of the 259 suicides, 123 were in the Army, 48 were in the Air Force, 45 were in the Marine Corps and 43 were in the Navy.

According to the CDC, the general suicide rate in the United States was 12.6 per 100,000.

The DOD has been collecting suicide event data since 2008. At that time, the suicide rate for active duty service members was 16.1, which means the suicide rate has increased since then. (page 12)

The highest rate for suicides among active duty service members was 2012 when it was 22.7 per 100,000.

Of those who committed suicide in 2013, 64.9 percent had been deployed to either Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), or Operation New Dawn (OND). 54.1 percent of those who committed suicide had been deployed to Afghanistan, 50.9 percent to Kuwait and 39 percent to Iraq.

In addition to collecting data on the number of suicides in the active duty military, the DOD report also collects data on suicide attempts.

In 2013, the DOD found that there were 1,080 suicide attempts. This is the highest number of suicide attempts counted since the DOD has been collecting data on this in 2008. In 2012, there were 869 suicide attempts (page 7). In 2011, there were 935 suicide attempts (page 31). In 2010, there were 863 suicide attempts (page 31). In 2009, there were 502 suicide attempts (page118), and in 2008, there were 591 suicide attempts (page 118).

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