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Army Has the Highest Suicide Risk in U.S. Military

Firearms implicated in about two-thirds of cases

TUESDAY, June 7, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Suicide rates have been increasing among all active U.S. Navy, Air Force, and Army personnel, but those in the Army appear to be most at risk, according to a study published online June 7 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The research team identified 1,455 U.S. military suicides between 2005 and 2011. The Army had the highest rates between 2006 and 2011. There were between 19.13 and 29.44 cases of suicide for every 100,000 soldiers. The most commonly held positions were in infantry or special operations. The lowest suicide rate — nearly 10 suicides for every 100,000 — was seen among both Air Force and Navy personnel in the year 2005.

Of all the military cases, men accounted for the majority share of suicides, at 95 percent. More than three-quarters of the suicides involved white service members. Marital status didn’t appear to affect suicide risk. The vast majority of suicides (87 percent) involved service members who had no more than a high school education, the researchers found. Across all military branches, the average age at suicide was 25. The median length of time served by a military member who took their life was four years. Sixty-two percent of suicides with a known cause of death were attributed to firearms.

“These results may help inform policymakers and advisors about differences in risks of suicide and violent suicide among the armed services and may help guide efforts to prevent self-harm within the military,” the authors write.

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