Archive for September, 2019

Gun Access May Be Risk Factor in Soldier Suicide Deaths

Texas suicide lawyerDeath by suicide has become a growing safety concern for American service personnel over the years. According to Military.com, approximately 321 active-duty military personnel took their lives in 2018. This included 57 Marines, 68 sailors, 58 airmen, and 138 Army soldiers.

As of 2004, the suicide death rate among American service personnel has exceeded deaths due to combat injuries.

Suicide and gun ownership, access

One study published in the online journal JAMA Network Open, scrutinized more than 100 deaths by suicide involving active-duty American service personnel and found a significant link between the ownership, access, and usage of firearms, and the risk of suicide.

Researchers in the study conducted psychological autopsies of 135 American service personnel who died by suicide during a period of 27 months while on active duty (but not deployed). In addition, they interviewed next-of-kin and supervisors regarding deceased American service personnel ownership, storage, and use of firearms.

These patterns of behavior were then weighed with those of a controlled group of American service personnel with likened demographics and assessed suicide risks, as well as a second group of American service personnel who had expressed suicide ideation during the previous year.

The study found that American service personnel who died by suicide were more likely to own loaded firearms, carry them in public, and store them in their homes.

According to researchers, determining this pattern of behavior as a suicide risk factor may require additional research. The sample size in the study was rather small, and in many cases, researchers weren’t able to interview next-of-kin (who are more likely to have knowledge of an individual’s firearm ownership and use).

This study may help piece together the behavior patterns of American service personnel who die by suicide, however. Additionally, it may serve as a positive step towards identifying suicide risks and allowing for intervention.

What can be done?

The staggering number of deaths by suicide among American service personnel has prompted the Department of Defense (DOD) to take action. The DOD plans to address these suicide risks by focusing on three key areas:

  • Data surveillance and reporting — the DOD plans to release an accurate, annual suicide data report.
  • Program evaluation — scrutiny of overall suicide outcomes including attempts and deaths, as well as help-seeking behavior, barriers to care, and cohesion.
  • Private and public collaboration — the DOD seeks to form a collaborative effort between federal agencies, nonprofit organizations, academia, and other community support groups.

With proper care, suicide can be prevented and failure to provide this care can result in tragedy. American service personnel put their lives on the line to serve their country and protect us. Our system has a duty to return service to these brave men and women and look out for them.

If you have lost a loved one to suicide, or someone you know, you may be looking for answers. The Law Offices of Skip Simpson is here to help. We offer free case evaluations to the survivors and families of American service personnel who have died by suicide. We can identify where the system failed and where intervention should have been offered.

Contact us today to find out how we can help you.