UH researchers: Military suicide rates continue to rise amid ‘endless wars’

UH researchers: Military suicide rates continue to rise amid ‘endless wars’
UH Hilo researchers study Army suicides and hope to expand study to other military branches. (Source: Pixabay.com)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Suicide rates in the Army historically declined during war, but have shot up during the nation’s so-called “endless wars” in the Middle East, UH researchers found.

For years, the U.S. military has been grappling with increasing suicide rates. Last year was the highest rate on record since the Department of Defense started keeping records in 2001.

According to Navy statistics, there were 58 suicides this year in the active duty Navy. In 2018, there were 68 suicides. Rates have been trending up since 2006 when there were 32 suicides.

“The rates do remain stubbornly high and they have been so for quite some time,” said Jeffrey Smith, History department chair and an associate professor at the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

Smith is part of a team of UH-Hilo researchers studying suicide rates in the Army.

Christopher Frueh, UH-Hilo professor of psychology, said the Navy and Army have been trying to reduce suicide rates for years.

“They started to embed psychologists and social workers in the units to travel with and be around and eat with and they really became a much more normative part of the experience,” Frueh said.

The UH-Hilo researchers next hope to conduct a comprehensive study about Navy suicides and are looking for help within the Navy because of gaps of information.

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