- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 22, 2020

The number of suicide deaths by active-duty military troops rose in the second quarter of 2020 compared to the same time period last year, according to data from the quarterly suicide report issued by the Department of Defense.

The study says 82 active-duty service members committed suicide during the second quarter of this year compared to 72 during the same three month period in 2019. Of the individual branches, the Army saw an increase of six, from 37 in 2019 to 43 in 2020. Department of Defense officials said 6 U.S. Marines took their own lives in the second quarter of 2020, compared to 10 at the same time this year.

The study did show a decrease in suicide deaths in the second quarter of 2020 for the Navy and the Air force. Both services saw their numbers dip by 3 cases.

The numbers were mixed for military reservists. Army Reserve suicide deaths increased by 8 while Marine Corps and Navy reserves saw a single increase in the second quarter of 2020. The Air Force Reserve figures did not change, Department of Defense officials said.

Suicide deaths in the Army National Guard dipped by 7 during the second three months of 2020. But the number of suicide cases in the Air National Guard increased by one, Pentagon officials said.

Gen. James McConville, the Army Chief of Staff, says he believes the coronavirus pandemic bears some responsibility for suicide deaths in the military because it “disconnects people” from each other.

“The (Department of Defense) recognizes the potential impact of COVID-19 on the well-being of our servicemembers and their families. We are closely monitoring impacts and proactive steps to mitigate those potential impacts from COVID-19,” Pentagon officials said.

The researchers said it is too early to determine whether suicide rates will increase or decrease for the year.

“We remain dedicated in our efforts to educate the force, support the force and emphasize social connectedness,” officials said.

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