Military personnel suicide
Even after spending tens of millions of dollars on suicide research and prevention programs, our Pentagon concedes it still does not know the reasons our military suicide rate has increased so rapidly. Over the course of 12 years and two wars, suicides among active-duty and reserve troops have risen steadily, hitting a record of 349 deaths in 2012. These suicides have continued to increase even after withdrawing from Iraq and winding down troop involvement in Afghanistan. In 2002, our military suicide rate was 10.3 per 100,000 troops. However, this rate had climbed to 18 per 100,000 by 2014. For the first time in at least a generation, the 349 soldiers who killed themselves in 2012 exceeded the 295 soldiers who were killed in combat. Equally as dire, recent studies show the suicide rate for Veterans has now reached about 22 per day. Some have speculated that many of the reasons service members take their lives are the same reasons civilians do. These include mental illness, stress, physical or sexual abuse, failed relationships, substance addiction and financial problems. Studies have found that half of those in our military who take their life have recently experienced the failure of an intimate relationship. Also, one quarter of all military personnel who commit suicide have been diagnosed with a substance abuse problem. Statistics show a pattern of young white males, both in the military and in civilian life, who use a gun to kill themselves. Health advocates say deployment and combat can worsen existing problems in a servicemember’s life. Studies have also shown that troops with multiple concussions were more likely to report suicidal thoughts than those who did not sustain these injuries. It is believed post-traumatic stress disorder also contributes to suicidal behavior. Recent reforms to the Veterans Health Administration regarding suicide prevention efforts now allow independent third party evaluations of injured servicemembers, among other policy improvements. Advocates say these changes are a good start in helping reduce the suicide rate of our military personnel and Veterans.

Pending Legislation:
H.R.271 - COVER Act

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Poll Opening Date
March 26, 2020
Poll Closing Date
April 1, 2020

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