Suicide Rates Outpace Covid Deaths for Service Members and Veterans

According to data released by the Pentagon, 126 service members committed suicide in the third quarter of 2021.

That means more service members died from suicide than from the coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic. The 126 service members break down to 70 active service members, 37 members of the National Guard, and 19 reserve members.

While suicides among active duty service members has fallen in recent months, suicides rose among National Guard and reserve members. Eighty-six members of the military have died of Covid since the beginning of the pandemic, as of Jan. 8.

In 2020, Pentagon data shows that 581 service members committed suicide. A total of 383 members of the military committed suicide in 2021 in the first three quarters of the year.

Suicide has become an increasing concern in the U.S. Army and other military branches. A study published this summer shows that 30,177 active duty Americans and veterans who served post-9/11 committed suicide, more than four times the number of service members killed in battle during the same period.

The statistics were published in a paper by Boston University’s Cost of War Project and Brown University.

The study also stated that suicide rates would continue to rise unless society and the United States government make fundamental changes and determine how to best help manage mental health struggles among veterans and service members.

“Unless the U.S. government and U.S. society makes significant changes in the ways we manage the mental health crisis among our service members and veterans, suicide rates will continue to climb. That is a cost of war we cannot accept,” wrote the authors of the study.

Vaccine mandates

In December, the military began taking disciplinary action against U.S. service members who had not complied with the government’s federal vaccine mandate.

More than 200 Marines have been expelled from the United States military for refusing the vaccine. Previously, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin said that suicide rates among military families and service members are concerning, too high, and are not improving.

Mental health professionals have concerns about the strain the pandemic adds to already-suffering service members and veterans. Many have an increased likelihood of suicide due to loneliness, PTSD, and chronic mental and physical health concerns.