Just like combat, over the last 20 years, suicide is something all too familiar to the U.S. military. Suicide affects both the active-duty military, which includes active National Guard and reservists, and veterans, alike. It is very alarming that we lose more veterans to suicide each year than all the troops we lost in 20 years of combat operations combined. In spite of the efforts of the Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Pentagon to reduce suicides, the numbers are trending in the wrong direction. Military suicides are still increasing.
On September 30, 2021, the Department of Defense released the Calendar Year (CY) 2020 Annual Suicide Report (ASR). According to the report, the suicide rate increased from 26.3 suicides per 100,000 active-duty troops in 2019, to 28.7 suicides per 100,000 in 2020. While this number is statistically small and not a huge change from 2019 to 2020, it is an all-time high since the Pentagon started keeping detailed records in 2008.
Every suicide is a significant tragedy, both for the families of the servicemembers and the military. Every suicide is a devastating loss of life. These numbers all reflect real people, real lives, and real struggles.