The Department of National Defence releases 2019 report on suicide mortality

Today, the Department of National Defence (DND) released the 2019 Surgeon General Report on Suicide Mortality in the Canadian Armed Forces. The findings from this report will advance the department’s knowledge of this issue by helping to refine our understanding of the factors influencing suicide in the CAF and identifying potential new trends. The report will also assist DND in continuing to make evidence-based decisions about its programs and investments in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) health care system.

The annual report is just one part of the CAF’s broad suicide prevention efforts described in the Canadian Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Canada’s Joint Suicide Prevention Strategy.

The Government of Canada recognizes the sacrifices CAF personnel and their families make while serving their country. Therefore, the best possible health care and support must be provided to them. Suicide is an important public health concern and it has devastating impacts on families, friends, and colleagues. DND continues to be committed to ensuring the CAF has the education and awareness programs required to help members understand when they might benefit from assistance, and to provide them with the appropriate range of supports.

Quotes

“Even one loss of a CAF member to suicide is too many and is felt by the entire Defence Team. Though there are no simple solutions, we need to continually evaluate and improve our efforts to help our women and men in uniform. We will not stop our work promoting mental health services, reducing the stigma associated with seeking help and increasing outreach to our members so that each and every Canadian Armed Forces member has the support they need. We are there for you.”

            ― Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of Defence

“The Canadian Armed Forces understand that each suicide is a complex and tragic event that has serious repercussions on families, friends, colleagues and clinicians. We have high quality programs and services in place, and we continually strive to make improvements where we can. We also continue our work on stigma reduction and other barriers to care, encouraging people to seek help when they need it”.

            ― Major-General Andrew Downes, Surgeon General

Quick facts

  • The Surgeon General Report on Suicide Mortality in the Canadian Armed Forces has been released annually since 2008, and provides information on suicide in the actively serving CAF population.

  • The 2019 Surgeon General’s annual Suicide Mortality Report is an update covering the period from 1995 to 2018.

  • From 1995 to 2017, the risk of suicide amongst Regular Force males who had deployed on any CAF mission was not statistically different to that of Regular Force males with no history of deployment on any CAF mission.

  • Between 1995 and 2018 there were no statistically significant increases in the overall suicide rates. The number of Regular Force males that died by suicide is consistent with the male suicide rates in the Canadian General Population, and there is no evidence for a link between deployment and risk for suicide.

  • The report found that the suicide rate in Regular Force males serving within the Canadian Army was higher than those posted to other environmental commands. Within the Canadian Army, members who served in combat arms occupations (i.e., infantry, armour, artillery and combat engineers) were at higher risk of suicide than those who served in non-combat arms.

  • From 2015 to 2018, there were two Regular Force and one Reserve Force females who died of suicide. As such a detailed analysis of suicide trends for females in the CAF was not undertaken due to statistical reliability.

Original source Government of Canada

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