US soldiers

A newly released US Department of Defense (DoD) report has revealed that suicides among US active-duty personnel decreased in 2013.

Entitled 2013 DoD Suicide Event Report (DoDSER), the report lists 259 suicides among active component service members and 220 such deaths among members of the reserves and National Guard. It also claims that the death rates in reserve components were slightly higher than in 2012.

In 2013, the suicide rate per 100,000 active-duty soldiers dropped to 18.7%, with the US Marine Corps recording the highest suicide rate at 23.1%, followed closely by the army at 23%, air force at 14.4% and the navy on 13.4%.

On the other hand, the suicide rate for reserves was 23.4%, up from 19.3% on the previous year. The National Guard rate also rose slightly to 28.9% from 28.1%.

According to the report, which includes detailed assessments of demographic information, behavioural health history and deployment history, more than 66% of those who committed suicide had deployed one or more times.

Young Caucasian males, including junior enlisted troops, were found to be most at risk.

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A range of factors were found to be the cause, with financial or workplace difficulties and failed relationships among them.

US Defense Suicide Prevention Office director Jackie Garrick said: "One suicide among our ranks is too many.

"Suicide is complex and the better we understand these events in our community, the better we will be able to assist service members in crisis."

"Suicide is complex and the better we understand these events in our community, the better we will be able to assist service members in crisis.

"We consider any measure that saves a life as one worth taking."

The Pentagon is actively working to prevent suicides within the armed forces with launch of more than a dozen suicide prevention programmes for service members, veterans and their families.

In addition, each military branch conducts suicide prevention awareness training.

The US DoD has also collaborated with Veterans Affairs to promote the veterans / military crisis line, a confidential counselling service available around the clock, and, which provides confidential peer support to service members and their families.

Image: A new DoD report has alleged that suicides among US active duty members decreased in 2013. Photo: courtesy of the US Army.