Government and Regulations

Active-Duty Suicide Rates Remain High

Although fourth quarter numbers have not yet been released, data from the first 3 quarters of 2014 reveal suicide rates have held steady among active-duty service members.



Suicides among active-duty military service members for the first 3 quarters of 2014 were consistent with numbers from 2013, according to the Department of Defense Quarterly Suicide Report Calendar Year 2014 Third Quarter (QSR), released on March 9, 2015.

From January to September 2014, 200 active-duty service members committed suicide, just 1 more than did during the same period in 2013. Data are not yet available regarding the fourth quarter of 2014.

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There were 254 total suicides for active-duty service members in 2013, including fourth quarter data.

The DoD releases the QSR 4 times per year to “communicate the department's suicide data on a routine basis,” according to a DoD press release.

In addition to measuring rates among active-duty service members (which includes those in the military academies), the QSR also measures suicides among selected reserves and National Guard members. Data for military retirees and for service members on temporary or permanent disability are not included in the QSR because of potential overlap with VA data.

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In 2014, during the first 3 quarters, 58 reserve members and 68 National Guard members committed suicide. The total combined number of suicide-related deaths among all military branches surveyed in the report was 326.

Although suicide numbers did not decline in 2014, some military branches are taking steps to reduce suicides in 2015.

On February 11, the U.S. Air Force changed the annual suicide prevention training for active-duty and Reserve airmen from a computer-based course to in-person training. The goal is to have all airmen receive training face-to-face by the end of 2015.

“The desired outcome is to provide airmen an opportunity to discuss suicide prevention concepts,” said Lt Col Mitzi Thomas-Lawson, Mental Health Branch chief for Air Education and Training Command.

Tech Sgt Katrina Rollins recently attended the face-to-face training and found the change from a computer-based system beneficial.

“Being part of a group discussion, seeing how everyone perceives the issues and having the facilitator bring up more discussion really changes the training for the better,” Tech Sgt Rollins said.

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