Professor of Gender and War. University of Sydney

Key Facts about Military Suicide

SUMMARY: A study published in JAMA Psychiatry found that Army soldiers between 2004 and 2009, especially new enlistees, women and troops diagnosed with mental health disorders are at a higher risk for self-harm. A total of 9,500 soldiers attempted suicide according the Defense Department Suicide Event Reports, with 676 soldiers dying by suicide. Dr Robert Ursano, lead author and chairman of the psychiatry department at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Science, has spoken about the importance of understanding suicide attempts during a period of high intensity operations, the study will hopefully be useful for future operations and peacetime service.

The other findings were:

  • 99% of suicide attempts between 2004 and 2009 were made by enlisted personnel, who make up 84% of the forces
  • Enlisted soldiers and officers were more at risk for attempting suicide if they entered service at age 25 or older.
  • Risk was particularly elevated during the first tour of duty, notably in the first few months of service.
  • Personnel who received a mental health diagnosis were at risk for attempting suicide within a month of getting the news.
  • Non-Hispanic Caucasians were at higher risk than minorities.

SOURCE: Patricia Klime, July 8 2015, ‘Study: Junior Troops, women more likely to try suicide,’ Military Times,

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