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Among active duty military, Army personnel most at risk for violent suicide

A study of rates and predictors of suicide among active duty enlisted service members found that Army personnel were most at risk for violent suicide. Firearms were determined to be the primary cause of suicide death across all branches of service. The findings are published in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Suicide is a leading cause of death worldwide and a growing concern among those serving in the U.S. military, where overall suicide rates almost doubled between 2001 and 2011. Understanding suicide trends among military units and the nonclinical factors associated with chosen suicide methods may help to improve suicide prevention strategies.

Researchers studied a U.S. military suicide data repository to calculate suicide rates for all active duty enlisted U.S. military personnel in each branch of the military from 2005 to 2011. The authors also looked at methods of suicide to identify those at risk for firearm-specific suicide. The data showed that suicide rates were highest among army personnel. Among suicides with a known cause of death, 62 percent were attributed to firearms. In addition, the results suggest that among army personnel or marines who committed suicide, those with infantry or special operations job classifications were more likely than those in noninfantry positions to use a firearm to commit suicide. According to the authors, these findings may help to guide efforts to prevent self-harm within the military.