Army Reports Record High Suicides in July
Posted by Kate O'Gorman on August 16
The U.S. Army just released this past month’s suicide numbers.
There were 38 potential suicides for the month of July, 26 occurring among active-duty soldiers and the remaining 12 suicides among the reserve and Guard components. These numbers, the highest reported by the U.S. Army since IAVA started tracking in January 2009, tragically underscore that despite the best efforts of the military, we still have a long battle against suicide ahead of us.
The rise in July suicides was largely in the active-duty component, and it’s a 44 percent increase from highest month this year (March) with 18 suicides. The number of potential suicides in the reserve component was also high at 12, slightly higher than the average number reported throughout 2012, but similar to the numbers we've seen over the past few months. So far, the Army has reported 187 total potential suicides in 2012. This includes 116 potential active-duty suicides and 71 among the reserve components. According to The Navy Times, one suicide is occurring every 27 hours.
The Pentagon allocates $2 billion, nearly 4% of its annual $53 billion medical bill, to mental health. But as of June 2012, it was reported that more U.S. military personnel have died by suicide (2,676) since the war in Afghanistan began than have died fighting there (1,950). Over the last three years, we have seen an increase in the suicide numbers during the summer (see the graph below) -- without definitive explanation though some studies have shown a similar trend in the civilian population. We do not know whether these potential suicides have occurred at home or in-country, nor do we have enough information from the Army to attribute these potential suicides to any particular cause.
Bottom line: the OIF/OEF community at large needs more attention and research. The Army, Marine Corps and Navy are the only branches of the military that report suicide data month-to-month. The VA, the supposed frontline for our veterans’ health care, reports only sporadically. Without regularly updated data, it’s not only impossible to track how many veterans and active-duty service members are committing suicide, but also difficult to judge the effectiveness of the mental health programs in place to prevent it.
July v. June Comparisons:
- July Total: 38 potential suicides; 2 have been confirmed and 36 remain under investigation.
- For June 2012, the Army reported 24 potential suicides total; 9 have been confirmed and 15 remain under investigation.
- July Active Duty Army: 26 potential suicides; 1 has been confirmed, 25 remain under investigation.
- For June 2012, the Army reported 12 potential suicides among active-duty soldiers. 2 have been confirmed as suicides and 10 remain under investigation.
- July Reserve Component Not on Active Duty: 12 potential suicides (9 National Guard, 3 Reserve); one have been confirmed; 12 remain under investigation
- For June 2012, among the reserve component not on active duty, the Army reported 12 potential suicides. 7 were confirmed as suicides and 5 remains under investigation.
Watch IAVA Chief Policy Officer Tom Tarantino's recent interview with Charlie Rose about mental health care for troops and veterans and preventing military suicide.
Service members and veterans who are struggling with thoughts of suicide and families who are concerned about their veteran or service member, can request help by calling the Veterans Crisis Line at 1.800.273.TALK (8255), Press 1 for veteran or www.veteranscrisisline.net. OIF/OEF veteran? Join the conversation inside IAVA's Community of Veterans for support and resources for the transition home.
IAVA has helped thousands of veterans. Here are some of their stories:
On Sunday, March 18th, IAVA Founder and Executive Director Paul Rieckhoff and…
On August 5th, IAVA Member Veterans joined President Obama at the Navy Yard…