Military Suicides at All-Time High Since 9/11 Attacks

Apr 21, 2022

More than four times as many service members and veterans have died from suicide since the 9/11 attacks than have been killed in combat and the numbers are rising to outpace those of the general population. 

A Brown University study released on June 21, 2021 found an estimated 30,177 active duty personnel and veterans who have served in the military since 9/11 have died by suicide, compared with 7,057 killed in combat in those same 20 years post 9/11 military operations. The figures include all service members, not just those who served in combat during that time. Most of the deaths are among veterans who account for an estimated 22,261 suicides during that period. The study also found suicide rates among both active service members and veterans have increased over the past 20 years, particularly among 18 to 34-year-olds. 

The Costs of War Project, which was started in 2010 by Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, presented the “clear contributors to suicidal ideation” include “high exposure to trauma – mental, physical, moral, and sexual – stress and burnout, the influence of the military’s hegemonic masculine culture, continued access to guns, and the difficulty of reintegrating into civilian life.” 

This research also found that some service members felt they would lose their sense of identity by being discharged early for a medical issue and they “would do anything to avoid leaving the military.”

According to the Department of Defense 2020 Annual Suicide Report, 580 military members died by suicide in 2020, a 16 percent increase from 2019 and the most the DOD has recorded in at least five years. 

Last week, Liberty Counsel filed a declaration in Navy SEAL 1 v. Austin revealing shocking evidence of suicides among military members over the Biden shot mandate. In the filing Liberty Counsel noted that a platoon mate of Plaintiff Lance Corporal 2 of the U.S. Marine Corp committed suicide just before Christmas. A military counselor who spoke to each member informed the platoon that the suicide was a result of the pressure and the punishment this Marine faced for his religious objection to the shots. A Coast Guard First Class Petty Officer also committed suicide in February. His wife also held the same rank, and both had submitted their religious accommodation requests which were denied. 

Recently, the crew of a single aircraft carrier, the USS George Washington, experienced nine suicides within nine months. In 2019, three sailors who served on the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush, died by suicide within a week in separate instances off-base. 

Liberty Counsel has received more than 1,000 legal assistance requests from service members from all military branches. Of those members, more than 334 have received final denials of their RA appeals. Multiple unvaccinated service members with pending RARs requested “voluntary” separation but they have been denied, even after their respective commands instructed them to apply for such separation. 

Liberty Counsel is seeking class certification in Navy SEAL 1 v. Austin to provide court-ordered protection for members of all the military branches who filed religious accommodation requests. 

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “It is evident that the stress and pressure on our military heroes is intense without the added stress of them making a choice between serving God and their country. Liberty Counsel continues the fight to uphold the religious freedom of the entire class of service members against unlawful shot mandates. The Department of Defense’s shot mandate is inflicting cruel and unusual punishment on America’s finest members of the military. This abuse must end. One life ending in suicide is too many.” 



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