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Mental Health

UK Armed Forces See Decline In Suicide Rates

According to Ministry of Defence figures, 310 suicides occurred among UK regular Armed Forces personnel between 1999 and 2018.

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The UK Armed Forces have seen a decline in the male suicide rate since the 1990s, according to new figures from the Ministry of Defence (MOD).

In the 20-year period between 1999 and 2018, 310 suicides occurred among personnel, with 292 males and 18 females.

The MOD said in a press release that suicide remains rare, evidenced by the number of deaths in each year. It said there were five coroner confirmed suicides in 2018, with an additional 16 awaiting verdicts.

Historically, the only age group with a statistically significant increased risk of suicide compared to the UK general population were males in the Army under 20.

However, the MOD said the number of suicides in this age group has fallen and, for the latest 20-year period, the rate of suicide in young Army males was the same as the rate in males of the same age in the UK general population.

The MOD also released figures on deaths in service.

It said in 2018, overall, the UK regular Armed Forces were at a statistically significant lower risk of dying compared to the UK general population.

The MOD said those in the UK Armed Forces were at an 81 per cent less likely of dying from a disease-related condition compared to the general UK population.

It also said they were 38 per cent less likely to pass away as a result of external causes of injury and poisoning.

It said the decrease could be explained by the 'healthy worker effect' - which is deemed to occur when workers are found to have lower mortality or other adverse health outcome rates than the general population due to certain groups of people being excluded from military employment, particularly those who are ill or who have disabilities.

There was also a decline in the rate of deaths among UK Armed Forces personnel over the last ten years. The MOD said it was a result of a higher number of deaths during the period 2009 to 2012 due to operational activity in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Since 2014, two lives have been lost as a result of hostile action, it said.

Historically, Land Transport Accidents (LTA) have been one of the largest causes of deaths among the UK Armed Forces.

The MOD said the advancement of vehicle safety systems and road safety campaigns it runs has contributed to a declining trend in the rate of deaths as a result of LTA. Since 2011, trends have remained stable.