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Mil Med. 2007 Oct;172(10):1024-31.

Deaths attributed to suicide among enlisted U.S. Armed Forces recruits, 1980-2004.

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Directorate of Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance, U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine, Silver Spring, MD 20910, USA.



The purpose of this study was to describe the epidemiology of suicides among U.S. Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, and Navy recruits from 1980 through 2004.


Recruit suicides were identified through the Department of Defense Recruit Mortality Registry. We calculated crude, category-specific, and age-adjusted mortality rates as deaths per 100,000 recruit-years.


There were 46 onsite suicides by gunshot (39%), hanging (35%), fall/jump (22%), and drug overdose (4%). An additional 20 recruits committed suicide from 1980 through 2004 after leaving the military training site. Methods included gunshot (70%), hanging (20%), fall/jump (5%), and poisoning (5%). Therefore, the overall recruit suicide rate was 6.9 (95% confidence interval = 5.4-8.8) deaths per 100,000 recruit-years. Only three (5%) suicides occurred among females resulting in a 3.5 times higher risk for males compared to females (95% confidence interval = 1.1-11.2).


Suicide rates among military recruits were lower than those of comparably aged U.S. civilians. However, the occurrence of any suicide during basic military training emphasizes the importance of routine evaluation of the effectiveness of each military service's suicide prevention program as it applies to this population.

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