On Thursday, the Pentagon released the 2018 military suicide report.
Unfortunately, for veterans and the Trump administration alike, it was not good news. 2018 was an all-time high in active duty, reserve, and National Guard troop suicides.
More Bad News for Vets
We already knew this was a major problem among our retired veterans, but it is also a growing problem for active-duty soldiers.
In 2018, the Pentagon report revealed there were 541 suicides throughout the military branches, including the reserve and National Guard.
Even more alarming is that active-duty suicides have been on the rise for the last five years. In fact, the suicide rate among active members has increased from 18.5 to 24.8 percent (per 100,000 active duty members) during that time span.
The breakdown for all branches of service was:
- Army – 187
- Navy – 79
- Marines – 77
- Airmen – 63
- Army National Guard – 118
- Air National Guard – 17
The demographic hit the hardest was the male enlisted under the age of 30 (mostly by firearm).
While the Navy had significantly fewer suicides than the Army, there has been a significant increase over the last few years in suicides in this particular arm of the service, far more than any other branch.
This was brought to light by the most recent rash of suicides on the carrier USS George H.W. Bush. The ship is currently docked in Virginia but recently saw three of its seamen kill themselves, with their deaths making five suicides in the last two years on this ship alone.
Another bothersome statistic in the number of military spouses that have committed suicide. In 2017, a total of 186 military family members killed themselves, with 123 of them being spouses (14 percent were active military).
On the rise in suicides, Marine Commandant General David H. Berger stated, “We all have a role in suicide prevention: individual service members, unit leaders, families and mental health professionals. Every Marine and Sailor must work together to be engaged in each other’s lives.”
As briefly mentioned above, the suicide rate among our retired veterans is also excessively high. From 2005 to 2017, the daily suicide rate has increased from 15.9 to 16.8, numbers that are simply unacceptable, an average of more than 6,000 suicides per year.