Suicide of teenage male soldiers 50% higher than civilian

oldbaldy

LE
Moderator
#1
Teenage male British soldiers are 50% more likely to commit suicide than their civilian peers, according to a report by the Defence Analysis Services Agency.

Although the incidence of suicides among those under 20 has dropped by 10% since sweeping reforms were introduced in the wake of the self-inflicted deaths of four trainees at Deepcut Barracks between 1995 and 2002, the risk remains "statistically significant", the report says.

Figures show that 68 recruits and newly qualified soldiers aged 16 to 19 killed themselves between 1984 and 2007, although the overall number of military suicides in higher age groups was "significantly lower" than in the general UK population.

For the 24 years between 1984 and 2007, a total of 712 confirmed suicides occurred among armed forces' personnel across the three services. This included 694 males and 18 females, the vast majority of whom belonged to the army.

The breakdown of victims by service was 421 soldiers, 117 sailors and 156 members of the RAF.

An MoD spokeswoman said: "As in society as a whole, the armed forces will sadly never be able to eradicate suicide.

"Whilst any death is one too many, thankfully suicide is not endemic in the armed forces and there is a definite downward trend in recent years.

"The risks have been significantly reduced by careful management, improved supervision, welfare support, and practical new policies."

Meanwhile, the government is to back a review recommending the introduction of military-style cadet training for state school pupils to improve attitudes towards the armed forces and discipline.

This would involve firearms training for 16-year-olds.
http://www.theherald.co.uk/news/new...ge_male_soldiers_50_higher_than_civilians.php

I wonder why they chose figures covering 24 years?
 
#3
Thats just playing with numbers.

If you had two muslims in the army, and one killed himself, then you are talking about a 50% suicide rate amongst muslims in the army.

Now whilst its unfortunate that that would be higher than their civilian counterparts it doesn't mean there are zillions of muslims killing themselves in the army.

Statistics can work for or against anyone in the right hands.
 
#4
feckemall is right,

If males in society are more likely to kill themselves, then placing them in emotionally stressful environments is going to make them try to kill themselves more. The army is more male than the other services, and probably more arduous in most cases

There is no doubt that the services is an emotionally stressful environment If it is deemed to be twice as stressful as civvy street then you could argue that if only one and a half times as many people try to top themselves then the support they receive is quite effective!

More realistically, 66% of the people would have killed themselves anyway, shouldn't there be better vetting to determine the emotional make up of the individual, a huge proportion of these suicides will occur as sprogs and before the age of 26. Buddy buddy is quite effective, and I know that officers and seniors get suicide awareness training, but do soldiers?
 
Z

Zarathustra

Guest
#5
At a guess maybe they started from 1984 so they could cover people who'd served in the Falklands, Bosnia, Seirra Leone, Kosovo, First Gulf, N.I, Telic and Herrick. While i appreciate people still suffer from these, covering this amount of time may have had a better chance of giving them the results they wanted.

Or maybe it's just a coincidence and i'm reading too much into it.
 
#7
I wonder if these figures are for serving personnel only? I don't know this to be true, but suspect the figures would be much higher if it included all serving and ex.

Does anybody know the stats?
 
#8
oldbaldy said:
Meanwhile, the government is to back a review recommending the introduction of military-style cadet training for state school pupils to improve attitudes towards the armed forces and discipline.

This would involve firearms training for 16-year-olds.
What relevance does that have to suicide in the regular/reserve forces? More than a little hint of sh1t stirring there.
 
#9
How can they get a constant result from that time frame? Smack in the middle of it you have a period where the age group shrinks by 20-25% (scrapping of Junior Leaders) and then later expands by the same percentage (introduction of AFCs). If we go by the tree huggers/nu labour's style of logic, we should up the recruitment age to 21 and then we won't get any suicides.
 
#10
Maybe someone professionaly qualified could comment on my thoughts below. In my opinion mental health care is still in the dark ages. For individuals to kill themselves there is a mental illness to cure. Just as with a physical injury, there are causes that the individual can prevent and mitigate against, and things the employer can do.

Unless the issue is highlighted, resources given to understand the causes (and therefore a duty of care to mitigate against it) then nothing will improve.
 
#11
i vaguely remember an investigation of some sort into a increase in suicides immediately following the Falklands. maybe this led to figures being kept from that date.

you would probably find many other agencies keep such info as in the police for example
 
S

stabradop

Guest
#12
oldbaldy said:
Teenage male British soldiers are 50% more likely to commit suicide than their civilian peers, according to a report by the Defence Analysis Services Agency.

Although the incidence of suicides among those under 20 has dropped by 10% since sweeping reforms were introduced in the wake of the self-inflicted deaths of four trainees at Deepcut Barracks between 1995 and 2002, the risk remains "statistically significant", the report says.

Figures show that 68 recruits and newly qualified soldiers aged 16 to 19 killed themselves between 1984 and 2007, although the overall number of military suicides in higher age groups was "significantly lower" than in the general UK population.

For the 24 years between 1984 and 2007, a total of 712 confirmed suicides occurred among armed forces' personnel across the three services. This included 694 males and 18 females, the vast majority of whom belonged to the army.

The breakdown of victims by service was 421 soldiers, 117 sailors and 156 members of the RAF.

An MoD spokeswoman said: "As in society as a whole, the armed forces will sadly never be able to eradicate suicide.

"Whilst any death is one too many, thankfully suicide is not endemic in the armed forces and there is a definite downward trend in recent years.

"The risks have been significantly reduced by careful management, improved supervision, welfare support, and practical new policies."

Meanwhile, the government is to back a review recommending the introduction of military-style cadet training for state school pupils to improve attitudes towards the armed forces and discipline.

This would involve firearms training for 16-year-olds.
http://www.theherald.co.uk/news/new...ge_male_soldiers_50_higher_than_civilians.php

I wonder why they chose figures covering 24 years?
(my bold) Why is that an issue? If you go to a shooting club you can shoot at a younger age than that under supervision. Bloody media, deserve to be gassed the lot of them.

stab
 
#13
sanchauk said:
Maybe someone professionaly qualified could comment on my thoughts below. In my opinion mental health care is still in the dark ages. For individuals to kill themselves there is a mental illness to cure. Just as with a physical injury, there are causes that the individual can prevent and mitigate against, and things the employer can do.

Unless the issue is highlighted, resources given to understand the causes (and therefore a duty of care to mitigate against it) then nothing will improve.
As some posters rightly point out the DASA stats have been largely misrepresented. Specific to your comments sanchauk, although it seems logical that suicide would be the final act in a long struggle with mental health problems the fact is that most people who go through with it are not on our books.

I perceive the problem being not that mental health services are in the dark ages, but that the organisation we serve has a culture which impedes engagement with mental health services. Although there is always plenty talked about PTSD (less than 2% of our total patient caseload as a Service, by the way) on the one hand, on the other hand the nature of the military - particularly the Army - is not all that tolerant of people who want to talk about their emotions, thoughts or feelings. It's all a bit pink 'n' fluffy for hardened killer types, y'know. Thus, many people will struggle on with undiagnosed, covert mental health problems because the system shames them into so doing.

Responsibility rests with the chain of command to identify vulnerable individuals and facilitate their support. We, as military mental health professionals, are merely part of that support - if needed.

Also, in relation to the data and to whom it refers, the DASA stats are exclusively about serving soldiers which is what DASA were asked to produce. Charlie Bubbles, I have every sympathy with your POV, but the fact that this survey was looking at serving soldiers does not infer that there is no interest in the plight of veterans - that's a bit of McCarthyist logic, I'm afraid.
 
#14
would be interesting to transpose the statistic against the number of attempted suicides in the civilian cohort - might well be an element of attempted suicides within a forces environment being more likely to succeed, due to the availability of fairly surefire ways of topping yourself, rather than unsuccessful attempts with overdoses, jumping etc amongst civpop.
 
#15
Khakicrab,

Thank you for your response. I hope I didn't cause offence with the 'dark ages' comment. However, if I understand you correctly, many of the cases of suicide are not on your books. Is this because they were no warning signs or that the symptoms were ignored by the individual and those around? I imagine it was the latter, in which case how can we describe mental health care (note 'care' not treatment) as anything, but in the dark ages?

It's no good having fantastic treatments if the access to that treatment is stigmatised and obvious symptoms go unrecognised or unactioned amongst a peer group. Although I think you agree with that.

A colleague I used to work with took this course of action (not Army). It may be the wrong way to describe it, but the decision making process he took was quite logical and rational. On reflection, and a bit of homework the symptoms of a very bad depression were clear as day.
 
#16
So really the statistics show that a higher percentage of young adults commit suicide - taking the percentages over 24 years. It has also reduced in the relatively short time since reforms were brought in following the Deepcut suicides. It doesn't say how the current rate of suicides compares with the national average?

I also find it strange to include the tag line about cadet training and use of firearms in schools! What relevence is that to statistics about suicides?
 
#17
fusilier50 said:
i vaguely remember an investigation of some sort into a increase in suicides immediately following the Falklands. maybe this led to figures being kept from that date.

you would probably find many other agencies keep such info as in the police for example
Sorry, as according to the Mod, THEY don't hold that information, at ALL!

Possibly a Freedom of Information Act request is needed here, if only to force the Mod / NHS to put the services in place for those who are serving now?
 
#18
labrat said:
fairly surefire ways of topping yourself, rather than unsuccessful attempts with overdoses, jumping etc amongst civpop.
And lets not forget Deepcut!

I'm sure they were not the only Trg Depot that had young men and women who felt they had no other option!
 
#19
Along the lines of Labrat the introduction of SA80 was in 86 so the requirement to remove your boots and socks was removed and you could do the deed with no prep. As did one soldier in my Bn after taking the rifle off a sentry outside the guardroom.

As for the MOD not holding the stats, this is crap, the figures are compiled by national statistics.

http://www.statistics.gov.uk/CCI/nugget.asp?ID=1092&Pos=6&ColRank=2&Rank=1000

http://www.dasa.mod.uk/natstats/natstatsindex.html

The actual document is called,

SUICIDE AND OPEN VERDICT DEATHS IN THE UK REGULAR ARMED FORCES 1984-2007
http://www.dasa.mod.uk/publications/pdfs/suicide/suicideMar08.pdf

The important thing is And open verdict. When you look at page 5 you see the breakdown of cause of death. These are the notes following the table, a number of deaths can be put down to other types of accidents that may not have been suicide but are open verdicts. As can be seen the availability of weapons to the army is a significant factor.

• Three types of method account for 79% of all cases: hanging and strangulation (32% of all cases), poisoning by gases (principally car exhaust fumes, 26% of all cases) and firearms (21% of all cases).
• There were no significant differences in suicide rates between the three Services in the use of hanging and poisoning by gases, nor between the Naval Service and RAF in the use of firearms. However, the use of firearms in the Army was statistically significantly higher (at 3.6 per 100,000, 95%CI=3.0-4.3) from
the other two Services (Naval Service 0.8 per 100,000, 95%CI=0.4-1.5) and RAF 1.0 per 100,000, 95%CI=0.6-1.7) (Figure 4).
 

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