Suicides Eclipse Car Crashes as Top Non-Combat Cause of U.S. Troop Deaths

Suicides Eclipse Car Crashes as Top Non-Combat Cause of U.S. Troop Deaths

by Mark Thompson
Time/Battleland, June 14, 2012

For years, motor-vehicle accidents have killed more U.S. troops than any other non-combat cause. There have been safe-driving campaigns on military posts since troops and transportation first got together. “Many military members are young, single, male, and high-school educated,” the Pentagon’s Medical Surveillance Monthly Report noted in March 2010. “These characteristics are associated with high risk of dying in motor vehicle crashes.”

That changed Wednesday, with the publication of the May issue of the same monthly report, which tracks trends in troops’ ailments and medical care. In the dry and clinical prose favored by the medical community, the report said that in each of the past two years, more troops have died at their own hands than in motor-vehicle accidents.

“From 2005 to 2011, the proportion of deaths due to suicide increased sharply while the proportion due to transportation accidents generally decreased,” Wednesday’s study found. “As a result in 2010 and 2011, suicides accounted for more deaths of service members than transportation accidents.”

(MORE: U.S. Military Suicides in 2012: 155 Days, 154 Dead)

War, fundamentally, is about death. It’s always fascinating to read the military’s explanations about those deaths it wants to avoid, be they civilian casualties in Afghanistan or suicide in the ranks.

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