Anonymous British soldier
Mental Health

Increase In Armed Forces Suicides Over Last Five Years, MOD Figures Show

There were 63 suicides in the Armed Forces between 2015 and 2019, compared to 61 between 2010 and 2014.

Anonymous British soldier

The number of suicides among military personnel has slightly increased over the last five years, new figures from the Ministry of Defence (MOD) show.

Figures released on Thursday show there have been 63 suicides in the Armed Forces between 2015 and 2019 - an increase of two from 2010 to 2014.

There are also a potential 11 additional deaths that are awaiting verdicts from a coroner.

The data shows there have been 306 suicide cases among regular Armed Forces personnel between 2000 and 2019 - 288 men and 18 women.

Between 2015 and 2019, eight deaths occurred in the Royal Air Force, nine were in the Royal Navy or marines and 46 of the suicides were by serving Army personnel.

In 2019 alone there were 10 confirmed suicides, with a further eight that may result in a suicide verdict once inquests are held.

If verdicts of suicide are given to these cases and an additional three from 2018, this would lead to the highest figures since 2012.

However, the figures note that the classification for suicide was changed for coroners in England and Wales in 2018 - the standard needed to give a ruling of suicide is now "on the balance of probabilities", as opposed to "beyond all reasonable doubt" in the past.

It comes as suicides in the general population have risen as well.

There have been 306 suicide cases among regular Armed Forces personnel between 2000 and 2019.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) recorded 11.2 deaths from suicide per 100,000 people in 2018, up from 10.1 deaths per 100,000 in 2017.

This national rate increases to around 17 male deaths by suicide per 100,000, while across all three forces, the male suicide rate is eight per 100,000.

Before the five-year increase, the MOD had seen a decline in the number of suicides across the Armed Forces.

The new figures come after concerns were raised over former personnel taking their own lives, following a spike of suicides in a cohort of Afghanistan veterans.

Earlier this month, Defence Minister Johnny Mercer said the Government has “not acted fast enough to update our data and understanding of military suicide”.

Mr Mercer said the new Office for Veterans Affairs', which he oversees, is funding the next stage of a long-term study into 30,000 veterans deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

The report is due later this year. 

Cover image: Crown Copyright.