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An Examination of Military and Civilian Suicide

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An Examination of Military and Civilian Suicide

Suicide has historically been and continues to be a significant issue in the United States, for civilians as well as active duty military service members and veterans. While statistics surrounding suicide appear to be just numbers on a page, I personally implore the reader of the following paper to never lose sight of the fact that those numbers represent real people. Each one of those people, be they civilian or military, represent a loss of a father or a mother, a brother or a sister, a son or a daughter, a best friend, a comrade, …a person whose life, and that life’s potential, is now forever lost. The following statistics on suicide rates in the United States do not differentiate if the individual was a civilian, an active duty service member, or a veteran.
According to the Division of Vital Statistics, cause-of-death statistics in 1964, 20,588 individuals reported the cause of death was suicide, equating to an average of 56 suicides per day, making it the 12th leading cause of death in the United States in 1964. The most frequently used means of committing suicide in 1964 were firearms and explosives, “… self-inflicted gunshot wounds accounted for 48 percent of all suicides in 1964” (Massey, 1967). A half century later in 2014, statistical reports compiled by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), indicate suicide as the 10th leading cause of death, accounting for 42,733 deaths (means used to commit suicide: 21,334 [firearms]; 11,407 [suffocation]; 6,808 [poisoning]; 3,184 [other]), equating to an average of 117 suicides per day. As in 1964, nearly 50 percent (49.92 percent) of those who committed suicide in 2014, did so using a firearm (Wintemute, 2015). Buried amongst the preceding numbers are the suicide statistics related directly to active duty service members and the…...

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