In the last few months of 2021, more than 160 active military members died by suicide. That staggering number is more than the combined number of military COVID deaths from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. That means, in only a few months, suicide numbers surpassed those lost to COVID for of all of 2020 and most of 2021.
More soldiers are succumbing to their mental illness than are passing away due to a worldwide deadly virus. The effects of this speak in droves for what it means to receive mental health care within the military, and the effects of current services that are being provided by Uncle Sam.
What they are doing isn’t working, and until it’s addressed, soldiers and veterans will continue to be lost to suicide, or maimed by attempts. Scholars from across the country are researching this phenomenon and focus on changing the way we look at mental health.
Soldier Suicide vs. COVID, by the Numbers
In total, the United States lost 163 soldiers to suicide from July-September of ’21, including 70 active duty soldiers, 56 reserve members, and 37 National Guard soldiers. This data was released by the Pentagon, confirming the steep increase in suicides, as compared to the rest of the pandemic.
In addition, 86 servicemembers were lost to the virus itself. Countless more have been diagnosed and sick with COVID among vaccinated and unvaccinated members alike. That number almost doubled toward the end of ’21 with the rise of the Delta variant.
As for total pandemic suicides? That number is sitting at more than 470 for ¾ of ‘21, or five-times the loss rate of COVID, even with new variants coming into play. And more than 700 for 2020, or more than eight-times the COVID loss rate.
The discrepancy is huge – massive – and coverage on the topic is lacking, to say the least.
A Long-Running Issue in Military Mental Health
But it gets worse, in post 9-11 times, the total suicide count is more than 30,000 … more than four-times the death count from the war itself (7,057). So what gives? What’s being done about this crisis? And why do we rarely hear about it?
A joint project put on by Brown University and Boston University known as Cost of War Project outlines these numbers, as well as financial fees that cost the U.S. for the Iraq/Afghanistan wars. In the project, more than 10 scholars argue that without intervention, these numbers are only slated to rise.