Defense Base Act Compensation Blog

The Modern Day DBA Casualty

Internal Army study cites more suicides than reported to public

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on May 26, 2010

By Bryant Furlow at  epiNews

May 26, 2010 — The U.S. Army’s publicly disclosed soldier suicide counts for 2008 and 2009, the highest on  record, are lower than those reported in a new internal Army study obtained by epiNewswire.

The disparity is modest. The internal study, completed last month, lists a total of 311 soldier suicides for 2008 and 2009.  As of April 2010, the Army’s publicly disclosed suicide count for those two years totaled 300.

It is unclear whether the discrepancy is due to inaccurately low public disclosures or inaccurately high numbers in the internal study.

Because of the time sometimes required to confirm suicide determinations, estimated suicide rates for a given month can climb over a period of several months. But that does not appear to explain the disparity between the numbers reported to the public and those listed in the internal study.

The study reports 166 soldier suicides for 2009, for example — six more than the 160 Army officials reported to the Congress and journalists in April 2010, the same month the study was completed.

Army suicide data released to the public May 13 included “updated numbers for 2009” totaling 163 suicides, reflecting three newly confirmed suicides. Two of those deaths had been initially declared accidental, according to an Army press release.

But the revised 2009 figure released this month was still lower than the 166 cases cited in the Army’s internal study.

“I think it’s reasonable for the numbers to change over time as new evidence is considered,” Maj. Remington Nevin, M.D., told epiNewswire.  “The larger point is that it is certainly possible  that our official suicide numbers reflect only a proportion of the true burden of suicide, and that many “accidental” deaths may actually reflect intentional death.”

Read the full story here

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