The latest National Statistic on suicide and open verdict deaths among the UK regular Armed Forces, produced by Defence Statistics, Ministry of Defence, was released on 28 March 2013 according to arrangements approved by the UK Statistical Authority.
This Statistical Notice provides statistics on suicide and open verdict deaths among the UK regular Armed Forces, and trends over the twenty-year period, 1993-2012. This notice also presents information on comparisons to the UK general population. This information updates previous notices published by Defence Statistics and includes new data for 2012.
Following external consultation in February 2013 to ensure these statistics continue to meet user needs, the notice now provides numbers and rates for the latest 20-year period with all time trend graphs presenting rates since the start of data collection in 1984. As suicide is a rare event, this will provide a balance between presenting analysis for a sufficient time period from which to provide meaningful data with the need to monitor the impact of MOD policy.
- For the 20-year period 1993-2012, 438 suicides and open verdicts occurred among UK regular Armed Forces personnel: 421 among males, and 17 among females. This represents an addition of seven deaths in 2012 and fourteen deaths that occurred in previous years and have now been given a suicide or open verdict (see paragraph 66 for more details).
- All three Services have seen a declining trend in suicide rates since the 1990s.
- For the 20-year period 1993-2012, the overall age-standardised suicide rate for the Army was significantly higher than for the other two services (12 per 100,000 strength compared to 8 per 100,000 for the Naval Service and 8 per 100,000 for the RAF).
- Overall, male suicide rates for the UK regular Armed Forces as a whole and for each Service were significantly lower than the UK general population. The rates for each age group over 20 years were also significantly lower than would be expected in the UK general population; with the exception of Army personnel aged 20-24 for whom the risk of suicide was the same as the UK general population.
- The only age group with a statistically significant increased risk of suicides compared to the UK general population, were Army males aged less than 20, who had an 82% significantly increased risk (SMR=182, 95% CI:135-244). This increased risk of suicide was the same as previously reported in 2011. The population at risk of suicide in the UK Armed Forces remains the same as previous notices: young Army males (aged under 20 years).
- Suicide rates by hanging, strangulation and suffocation increased in the 1990 (to 8 per 100,000 in 1996-2000) but have since fallen to between 2 and 5 per 100,000 in 2008-2012.
- Suicide by the use of firearms, particularly in the Army, increased in the mid 1990s (to 7 per 100,000 strength in 1992-1996) but has since fallen to less than one per 100,000 in 2007-2011.
- Suicide rates by the use of poisonous gases have fallen since the early 1990s (single Service rates which were between 4 and 8 per 100,000 strength in 1986-1990 have fallen to less than one per 100,000 in 2007-2011).
- As 20 male deaths since 2007 (14 in 2012) are still under investigation by a coroner (waiting verdicts) data will be revised in subsequent statistical notices should the outcome of the inquests return a suicide or open verdict. Therefore findings for the most recent years may change.
For further information about these statistics, contact Defence Statistics Health:
Telephone: DASA WDS on 030 679 84423
Future editions of this publication:
- 1984 - 2013
Release date : 27 March 2014