Are soldiers more likely to die from suicide than being killed?

  • Thread starter Pythagorean
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In summary, the conversation discusses the rate of suicide among soldiers in comparison to combat deaths in two of the top 10 leading military powers of the world, specifically in the United Kingdom and the United States. It is noted that suicide is a more common cause of death than combat, and this is attributed to the surprisingly low number of war deaths and the high number of car and training accidents. The conversation also mentions a report showing higher suicide rates among veterans and the need for interventions. There is a discussion on the accuracy and relevance of the statistics provided and the comparison between suicide and combat deaths. Overall, the conversation suggests that while there may be issues with mental health support for soldiers, comparing suicides to combat deaths may not be an accurate or fair representation of
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  • #2
It depends on the specifics of timeframe and sample selection, but it is often true (recently) in wartime for war to not be the leading cause of death for soldiers. I think in the US it is usually car accidents, followed by training accidents (iirc). This is a biproduct both of war being surprisingly safe and cars surprisingly dangerous. And while suicide is relatively uncommon, it happens to be more common than war deaths. Worse, sending soldiers to war can actually save lives due to that mismatch!

Note though that the NYT study at least has mismatched samples. It is comparing current war deaths (of which there were very few even in 2011) to suicides by all veterans (ie, people who are not in the military but used to be).
 
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  • #4
It has been pretty well publicized that the rate is higher than for civilians, so I don't see what purpose the stats in the OP serve. They have a very poor frame of reference as far as I can tell.
 
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  • #5
russ_watters said:
It depends on the specifics of timeframe and sample selection, but it is often true (recently) in wartime for war to not be the leading cause of death for soldiers. I think in the US it is usually car accidents, followed by training accidents (iirc). This is a biproduct both of war being surprisingly safe and cars surprisingly dangerous. And while suicide is relatively uncommon, it happens to be more common than war deaths. Worse, sending soldiers to war can actually save lives due to that mismatch!

Note though that the NYT study at least has mismatched samples. It is comparing current war deaths (of which there were very few even in 2011) to suicides by all veterans (ie, people who are not in the military but used to be).

Actually, it's been true for over a hundred years. As the equipment used in warfare has advanced, accidental death has also increased. Part of that is the need to spend more time training. For example, more WWII pilots died learning how to fly than actually died in combat. In fact, some of the more interesting hikes in the area I live in are to WWII crash sites where the pilot didn't quite clear the mountain range (WWII pilots trained at an airfield that later became Peterson AFB in the city where I live).

And, with the US having a huge advantage over most of its adversaries, plus better capability to get rapid medical treatment for the injured, the number of actual combat deaths has decreased to a small fraction of the casualties we used to suffer.

I guess the statistics make a statement about troops committing suicide, but they also make a statement about our ability to reduce combat deaths.
 
  • #6
I think the metric to consider is death by suicide associated with PTSD. Such a terrible way to die. Sacrifice your life for what? I am not even going to get into it - I think the military is highly overrated when you consider these type of drawbacks.
 
  • #7
Especially the British combat deaths... they had 40 combat deaths and are trying to compare anything to that? They have 200,000 military personnel, so that's 20 deaths per hundred thousand, which if we compare to some occupation hazards from this graphic from wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Selected_occupations_with_high_fatality_rate.png

That gives us eight occupations in the US more dangerous than being in the British armed forces. So saying that they have more suicide deaths (including veterans so this isn't even a particularly balanced comparison) would be like me telling you that more farmers die from suicide than by work related injuries, and then saying that we are failing the nation's farmers.

Are we failing soldiers on a mental health front? Yeah, probably. But comparing suicides to combat deaths is just an attempt to get a cheap emotional rise because people assume without analysis that we should have lots of combat deaths
 

1. What is the current suicide rate among soldiers?

The current suicide rate among soldiers is approximately 20.2 per 100,000 individuals, according to the Department of Defense Suicide Event Report (DoDSER) for 2018.

2. How does the suicide rate among soldiers compare to the general population?

The suicide rate among soldiers is significantly higher than the general population, which has a rate of approximately 14.2 per 100,000 individuals.

3. Are soldiers more likely to die from suicide than being killed in combat?

Based on current statistics, soldiers are more likely to die from suicide than being killed in combat. In 2019, there were 139 reported active-duty military deaths due to suicide, compared to 26 combat-related deaths.

4. What are some risk factors for suicide among soldiers?

Some risk factors for suicide among soldiers include deployment-related stress, mental health issues such as PTSD and depression, access to firearms, and personal or relationship problems.

5. What is being done to address the issue of suicide among soldiers?

The military has implemented various programs and initiatives aimed at addressing the issue of suicide among soldiers, including increased mental health resources, suicide prevention training, and destigmatizing seeking help for mental health issues. Additionally, there are ongoing research efforts to better understand and prevent suicide among soldiers.

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