Editor’s note: This report contains discussion of suicide. Troops, veterans and family members experiencing suicidal thoughts can call the 24-hour Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 or 1-800-273-8255, text 838255 or visit VeteransCrisisLine.net.
The number of suicides across the active-duty military increased from 75 in the first quarter of 2022 to 94 in the first quarter of 2023, according to the Defense Suicide Prevention Office.
The Pentagon’s office on prevention said to be wary of extrapolating and interpreting the data.
“Caution should be used when making comparisons across groups and/or interpreting changes in suicide counts across time because counts do not account for changes in population size,” the report warned.
“Rates account for differences in population sizes; and, as such, provide a more standardized way to make comparisons over time or across groups,” it continued.
The Army experienced the highest increase in suicides, where 49 service members died by suicide in the first three months of 2023, compared to 37 service members a year ago. This comes as the service still waits for its suicide prevention regulation.
An Army spokesperson said in an email that the service is “working urgently but deliberately to complete this effort.” Army Times reported previous delays and how the service blocked public access to a report cited in an April 2022 story about the wait. The service passed its latest self-imposed deadline of June.
The Marine Corps also experienced an increase, from 8 deaths in 2022 to 14 in 2023. While the Space Force and Navy saw no increases from a year ago, the Air Force saw a small increase, from 16 deaths by suicide in 2022 to 17 deaths by suicide in 2023.
Deaths by suicide in the military’s reserve components stayed the same in the first three months of 2022 and 2023, with 41 service members dying by suicide.
This is the largest number of deaths by suicide in a single quarter since the second quarter of 2021, when 97 active-duty service members died by suicide.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the Air Force experienced no increase in suicides in the first quarter of 2023, compared to the first quarter of 2022. That was incorrect. The Navy experienced no increase in suicides in the first quarter of 2023, while the Air Force experienced 17 deaths by suicide in 2023, compared to 16 in 2022.
Zamone “Z” Perez is a rapid response reporter and podcast producer at Defense News and Military Times. He previously worked at Foreign Policy and Ufahamu Africa. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, where he researched international ethics and atrocity prevention in his thesis. He can be found on Twitter @zamoneperez.