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2019


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September is National Suicide Prevention Month

September 1

September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and while this important time of observance and suicide awareness is not limited to veterans, active duty, National Guard, or Reservists, the military’s needs in this area cannot be overlooked.

Suicide in the Armed Forces has been a critical issue for as long as there have been branches of the military. Just how critical? The following numbers represent some of the most recent reports for suicide rates for the active duty military, Reserves, National Guard, and veterans:

The 2015 Department of Defense Suicide Event Report (DoDSER) stated that the suicide rates were about 25 per 100 thousand for Reservists and about 27 per 100 thousand for National Guard service members.
2016 suicide rates for individual branches of service were about 19 per 100 thousand for the Air Force, about 27 per 100 thousand for the Army, about 15 per 100 thousand for the Navy, and about 21 per 100 thousand for the Marine Corps.

According to a 2019 Congressional Research Service report titled “Recent Trends in Active-Duty Military Deaths,” between 2006 and 2018, 3,863 active duty service members ended their own lives. This is more than service members who were killed in action, (2.710), and service members who died by wounds received, (886), combined.
According to a 2016 report from the Office of Suicide Prevention, while veterans account for only 8.5% of the U.S. population, 18% of all adult suicides in the U.S. are veterans, or about 20 veteran suicides per day.

These numbers paint a sobering picture: Suicide is the second leading cause of death among services members, and one of the leading causes of death among veterans.

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