The Army saw a 19 percent increase in active duty suicides

Elizabeth Howe
February 08, 2019 - 8:34 am

Photo courtesy of DVIDS

Overall, fewer soldiers completed suicide in 2018 than in 2017, reversing a pattern of increase that has continued since 2014. However, looking closer at the numbers reveals a concerning statistic. 

While the overall number of completed suicides decreased by 0.9 percent in 2018, the number of suicides for active duty Army personnel jumped by 19 percent. 

In 2017, out of 303 reported suicides, 116 were active duty service members. In 2018, out of 300 reported suicides, 138 were active duty service members.

Completed suicides in the Army Reserves decreased by roughly 13 percent. The number of active duty service members who completed suicide saw an upward tick from 116 to 138 — an 18.9 percent increase. 

Since 2012, suicide numbers across all branches — including the Army — have fluctuated. A six-year-high of 325 in 2012 dropped to 300, then 245 before beginning a pattern of increase that has continued over the last four years. Other branches have seen similar fluctuations — the Marine Corps saw its highest number of suicides in ten years this year.

RELATED: Suicides in the Marine Corps highest in 10 years

The most recent statistics from the Army could suggest that current suicide prevention efforts need to be refocused to address a specific portion of Army personnel. When asked if the Army is developing any focused plans in response to this sharp increase in suicides among its active duty component, spokesman Col. Kathleen Turner explained that more work needs to be done. 

"Like the rest of America, the Army continues to grapple with the loss of too many of our people to suicide. The loss of any Soldier or Army Family member to suicide is a tragedy," Turner said in a statement. "While the Army has made progress, more work needs to be done. We must continue to ensure commanders have the policies and resources they need to prevent suicides, that all leaders have the tools to identify Soldiers who are suffering and to positively intervene, and that all Soldiers view seeking mental health care as a sign of strength."

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