Why are military suicides so common? The answer is not combat. Veterans are much more likely to die by suicide than civilians. The rate of suicide for male veterans is almost double that of civilian males in Australia and the US, and US female veterans are two and a half times more likely to take their own lives than civilian women.
There is an increased public awareness of this issue. However, there is a persistent myth that military suicides are connected to combat. Research has shown that there is no connection between participation in combat operations and vulnerability to military suicide. In fact, it may be the inverse, service personnel who have even never may be at a higher risk to military suicide. Also, research has found that those the military who are diagnosed with PTSD have a lower chance of suicide.
Research that I have conducted has found cases of female service members having to prove that they were in combat in order to be taken seriously by military health professionals. And it may also been the case that military personnel are reluctant to seek help for mental health issues if they have not been in combat or on deployment as they may feel that their experiences don’t justify official help.
The full version of this article was first published at https://www.smh.com.au/national/why-military-suicides-are-so-common-the-answer-isn-t-combat-20181113-p50fmm.html