Suicide Risk

Suicide Risk

Suicide, although a serious public health problem, is preventable. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2015, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and the second leading cause of death for adults ages 15-24 and 25-34. The CDC reports that a person dies by suicide approximately every 13 minutes in the United States.

Historically, suicide rates in the military were below those of the civilian population. However, since 2005, suicide rates in the military (particularly for the Army) have continued to increase, [ Reference 1 ] prompting an urgent need to address suicide in the military. The relationship between the psychosocial factors of the military (i.e., combat exposure, unit cohesion, etc.) and suicide is complex. [ Reference 2 ] Research indicates that relationship problems, financial difficulties, and legal issues are all factors related to suicide ideation and behaviors. [ Reference 3 ]

However, despite the complexity of the issues that may be affecting members of the force, the behaviors of suicidal service members prior to their deaths give hope. In 2015, 64 percent of service members who died by suicide used some form of military health care in the three months prior to death (Calendar Year (CY) 2015 DoD Suicide Event Report (DoDSER)).

Military Health Care Services Used within 90 Days of Death by CY 2015 Suicide Decedents from the Active Component and the Selected Reserve Component of the Ready Reserve (see pie chart)


Suicide Risk Resources for Providers

References

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013). Fatal injury and nonfatal injury 2013, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS). Retrieved from http://webappa.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/mortrate10_us.html.

  2. Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center. (2012). Death by suicide while on active duty, active and reserve components, U.S. Armed Forces, 1998-2011. Medical Surveillance Monthly Report, 19(6), 7-10.
    LeardMann, C.A., Powell, T.M., Smith, T.C., Bell, M.R., Smith, B., Boyko, E.J., …Hoge, C.W. (2013). Risk factors associated with suicide in current and former U.S. military personnel. Journal of the American Medical Association, 31(5), 496-506.

  3. Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center. (2012). Death by suicide while on active duty, active and reserve components, U.S. Armed Forces, 1998-2011. Medical Surveillance Monthly Report, 19(6), 7-10.

  4. Reger, M.A., Smolenski, D.J., Skopp, N.A., Metzger-Abamukang, M.J., Kang, H.K., Bullman, T.A., …Gahm, G.A. (2015). Risk of suicide among U.S. military service members following Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom deployment and separation from the U.S. military. Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry, 72(6), 561-569.