The Department of Defense (DoD) recently released its annual report on suicides in the military in 2017. The report contains official suicide death counts and rates for the U.S. military and identified suicide attempts, among other findings. Military policy makers, commanders and other leaders rely on this data to help implement policy, influence decision-making processes and determine programming strategies. Below is a brief overview of some of the report’s key findings:
2017 Suicide Rates for Active Duty Members – Service-Specific Findings
- Army rate: 24.3 per 100,000 soldiers
- Marine Corps rate: 23.4 per 100,000 Marines
- Navy rate: 20.1 per 100,000 sailors
- Air Force rate: 19.3 per 100,000 airmen
Overall 2017 findings
- The most common mechanism of injury for death by suicide in service members continues to be a personally-owned firearm (as opposed to a military-issued firearm).
- The most common mechanism of injury for suicide attempts in service members was alcohol and/or drugs.
- Consistent with findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 50.8 percent of service members who died by suicide did not have a documented behavioral health diagnosis.
- Regardless of whether or not an individual voluntarily disclosed – or was assessed for – suicidal thoughts, feelings, and behavior, 51.5 percent of service members who died by suicide were seen for an appointment in the Military Health System within 90 days of their deaths.