According to figures revealed by the Pentagon, more US military members die from suicide every year than the total deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the rate is still going up.
Over the past 6 years, the total number of veterans and active-duty service members that have committed suicide is 45,000 individuals. This means that on average, 20 military members kill themselves every day.
These data came in the US Department of Defense’ Annual Suicide Report, which also shows that the rate of suicide among all service branches has risen by more than a third, despite the department’s “strides in establishing an infrastructure for preventing military suicide.”
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As to the distribution of the suicide cases by demographics, the decedents “were primarily enlisted, male, and less than 30 years of age” and killed themselves using firearms.
This does not make the situation of the veterans any better. In 2016, veterans were 2.5 times more likely to commit suicide than those who did not serve in the army.
A plethora of complex reasons, including “impulsive decisions with little warning” are behind this alarming rate of suicide rates among US soldiers, says the New York Times that first covered the news. The news source goes on to say that most of the decedents do not suffer any sort of mental illness.
The Department of Defense says that it “embraces a public health approach to suicide prevention that acknowledges a complex interplay of individual-, relationship-, and community-level risk factors.”
This covers a myriad of initiatives that include “establishing policy guidance and an enterprise-wide suicide prevention governance body; standardizing and advancing data surveillance, research, clinical interventions, and program evaluation; and partnering and engaging with other federal, non-profit, and private organizations.”