Military Suicides Decrease for Active Duty, Rise in Reserve Forces

WASHINGTON—While the rate of suicides among active duty troops decreased from 2012 to 2013, suicides appeared to increase among reserve forces, according to recent data.

New data released by DoD reports that in 2012 there were 319 suicides among active component servicemembers and 203 suicides among reserve component troops (130 in the National Guard and 73 in the reserve.) In comparison, preliminary suicide data for 2013 indicates that there were 261 suicides among active duty troops and 213 deaths in the reserve and National Guard component, according to DoD.

The 2012 suicide data was released in DoD’s annual DoD Suicide Event Report (DoDSER).

“The department takes suicide prevention very seriously and considers any measure that saves a life as one worth taking,” Lt. Gen. Michael S. Linnington, military deputy to the acting undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, said in a written statement. “The 2012 DoDSER gives us comprehensive information of suicide events and a greater understanding of the range of conditions associated with this very serious problem for the department.”

Among other findings of the report was that  the use of a firearm was the primary method for suicides (65.1%) and the majority of firearms used were non-military issued firearms (75.8%). For suicide attempts, the use of drugs was the most frequently reported method (54.8%).

The agency reported that it has standardized practices and processes across the services and the department “to provide consistent and comparable information that helps inform suicide prevention efforts.”

 “Suicide death rate will now be calculated for each component consistent with the methodology used to report the incidence of death in the U.S. by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” the agency explained in a statement.

“Previously, each service branch calculated a suicide rate for their service members using different reporting intervals and statistical methodologies. Additionally, service component, rather than duty status, will be used to count suicide number for the total force (active, guard and reserve components).” the statement further explained.


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