US military suicide rates have increased by at least 20% this year, in comparison to the same period last year, with Defence Department officials considering the COVID-19 pandemic a potential primary factor, the Associated Press reported on Sunday.
Officials mentioned other factors that are also believed to have contributed to the increase in suicide rates among the military’s active and reserve service members, including war-zone deployments, national disasters across the US, and civil unrest that has taken place in all parts of the country since the 25 May killing of an African-American man, George Floyd.
Although US Army and Air Force officials can’t directly blame the pandemic, they said that the ongoing disease has added stress “to an already strained force”. There is no official data provided by the Pentagon, according to AP.
The outlet said, citing Defence officials involved in internal discussions and briefings on suicide data, that the military suicide rate has increased by 20%. Those rates vary in different divisions of the US military, with the active Army rising by 30%, from 88 last year to 114 this year, pushing the general total more than any other service.
The Army Guard’s suicide increased by about 10%, from 78 last year to 86 this year, while the rates are believed to have been implemented among Navy personnel.
According to the AP report, in early 2020, prior to the declaration of the coronavirus disease as a pandemic by the World Health Organisation in March, suicide rates were less than those of the same period in 2019.