Military suicides up as much as 20% amid ever-changing pandemic

Officials say the stress of the pandemic has added to already strained forces.

Updated: September 28, 2020 - 3:57pm

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Military suicides have increased as much as 20% this year, with the coronavirus seeming to add to the stress of military service.

The Pentagon would not provide any 2020 information or data. However, Army officials in Defense Department briefings provided some details about the situation.

Army leaders say they have seen a 30% jump in active-duty suicide rates this year, from 88 suicides last year to 118 so far this year. The Army Guard is up 10%. However, the Navy total is thought to be lower this year. 

The officials can’t directly blame the increase on the virus but said it does directly coincide with the timing.

“I can’t say scientifically, but what I can say is – I can read a chart and a graph, and the numbers have gone up in behavioral health-related issues,” Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said in an Associated Press interview. He also said the Army is considering shortening deployments to allow more time at home and with family. 

Soldiers’ 10-month deployments have increased to 11 months because of the two-week coronavirus quarantines required at the beginning and end.

A Pentagon report in 2018 indicated that the military suicide rate was roughly equivalent to the civilian suicide rate, which is not yet available to the public. 

Military suicides have increased as much as 20% this year, amid the coronavirus that has made civilian and no-civilian life more stressful.

The Pentagon would not provide any 2020 information or data. However, Army officials in Defense Department briefings provided some information.

Army leaders say they have seen a 30% increase in active-duty suicides this year – from 88 suicides last year to 118 so far this year. The Army Guard is up 10%. However, the Navy total is thought to be lower this year. 

The officials can’t directly blame the increase on the virus but said it does directly coincide with the timing.

“I can’t say scientifically, but what I can say is – I can read a chart and a graph, and the numbers have gone up in behavioral health related issues,” Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said in an Associated Press interview. He also said the Army is considering shortening deployments to allow more time at home and with family. 

Soldiers’ 10-month deployments have increased to 11 months because of the two-week coronavirus quarantines required at the beginning and end.

A Pentagon report in 2018 indicated that the military suicide rate was roughly equivalent to the civilian rate, which is not yet available to the public. 

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