Is Suicide among the US Military Common?

More United States military personnel died by suicide than in battle in 2009. Branches of the U.S. military reported a total of 434 suicides in 2010, although this does not include those by National Guard members or reservists who were not on active duty, veterans who took their lives after going off active duty or people in the Individual Ready Reserve, a group of about 123,000 people who are not assigned to any particular unit.

More facts about suicide among military personnel:

  • The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) reported that there was a suicide by a U.S. service member an average of once every 36 hours from 2005 to 2010.

  • Former military members make up about 20 percent of all suicides in the U.S. Only about 1 percent of Americans serve in the military.

  • The number of military deaths in Afghanistan doubled in 2009 as compared with 2008.

  • Despite the long-term rise in suicides, the number of service members taking their lives decreased during the second half of 2011. After July 2011, suicides decreased for the next several months consecutively.

  • The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has undertaken studies to better understand the causes of suicide among military personnel and has increase the number of staff members for identifying and helping at-risk active service members and veterans in its military and civilian branches.
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