The Army reported an uptick in active-duty suicides in 2018, according to service statistics, though deaths by suicide were slightly down in the total force.
Out of 300 total reports, 138 came from the active-duty side ― 22 more than in 2017, Defense Department statistics show.
“Like the rest of America, the Army continues to grapple with the loss of too many of our people to suicide," Army spokeswoman Col. Kathleen Turner told Army Times in a statement Friday. “The loss of any soldier or Army family member to suicide is a tragedy.”
The most recent DoD quarterly suicide report goes back to 2012, showing a six-year high of 325 total suicides in the Army. That number dropped to 300 in 2013 and then to a low of 245 in 2014, before ramping back up to 279 in both 2015 and 2016, then jumping again to 303 in 2017.
During that time, active-duty numbers also fluctuated. The Army reported 165 active-duty suicides in 2012, which dropped to 121 in 2013, then 126 in 2014 and 120 in 2015. The past three years, the numbers have swelled and dipped from 120 in 2016 to 116 in 2017, then back up to 138.
“While the Army has made progress, more work needs to be done,” Turner said.
Meanwhile, the Marine Corps reported its highest suicide numbers in a decade, at 75. According to Military.com, total active-duty reports across the four DoD services are the highest they’ve been since 2012, which had been the DoD services' worst year since it began centrally tracking reports in 2001.
“We must continue to ensure commanders have the policies and resources they need to prevent suicides, that all leaders have the tools to identify soldiers who are suffering and to positively intervene, and that all soldiers view seeking mental health care as a sign of strength,” Turner said.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.