More than quadruple the number of military service members have died from suicide than from military operations since September 11th.
The numbers were included in a recent report on U.S. military deaths. An estimated 7,057 service members have died during military operations since 9/11. 30,177 active duty personnel and veterans have committed suicide, according to the report.
According to the report, the high suicide rates are due to several reasons, some inherent to war and others unique to the U.S.’s war-on-terror framework.
“Partially, they are due to risks common to fighting any war: high exposure to trauma, stress, military culture and training, continued access to guns, and the difficulty of reintegrating into civilian life,” the report noted. “In the post-9/11 era, the rise of improvised explosive devices (IED), the attendant rise in traumatic brain injuries (TBI), the war’s protracted length, advances in medical treatment that keep service members in the military longer, and the American public’s disinterest in the post-9/11 wars, have greatly contributed to increased suicide rates.”
Other potential reasons for the rise in suicides are a sexual assault epidemic in the military, a “masculine” military culture and easier access to firearms, said Thomas Suitt, author of the paper for Brown University’s Cost of War Project.
University of Southern California Professor Carl Castro – served 33 years in the Army and is director of the Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans & Military Families – said that while the reasons in the paper are risk factors, the science is less clear on what drives people to commit suicide.