Military Suicides Appear Headed for Another Increase

Suicides among active duty U.S. military appear headed for a fifth consecutive annual increase, according to statistics published by the Department of Defense.

The Quarterly Suicide Report published figures through June 30 which showed there were 170 suicides among active duty members of the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force, seven more than through the first six months of 2019.

That followed annual increases since 2015. While there were 349 suicides in 2019, the second half of each of the last four years have shown increases in the number of self-inflicted deaths over the first half.

The Army suffered the most suicides this year, increasing from 67 to 81 over the first six months of 2019 to 2020. The Marine Corps saw suicides increase from 20 to 24, while the Navy (36-28) and Air Force (40-37) both had declines.

While the Pentagon’s Defense Suicide Prevention Office report says it cannot predict what the 2020 calendar year total will be, it was aware that the outbreak of the novel coronavirus may be taking a toll.

“The DoD recognizes the potential impact of COVID-19 on the well-being of our Service members and families,” it said. “We are closely monitoring potential impacts and proactive steps to mitigate those potential impacts from COVID-19.”

There were 82 suicides among active duty military in the second quarter, which began April 1 – shortly after the SARS-CoV-2 virus reached the United States and restrictions across the country were imposed, compared to 72 a year earlier, the report said.

Suicides in the second quarter also rose among reserve elements, 49 this year compared to 43 last year, although there were fewer among the National Guard, 23 in the second quarter of 2020 as compared to 27 last year.

Across all elements, active duty, reserve and National Guard, there were 306 suicides in the first six months of this year compared to 302 in 2019.

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