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Suicide among male regular UK Armed Forces personnel, 1984–2007


Objective: To examine the number of suicide and open verdict deaths in the regular UK Armed Forces and to make comparisons with the UK general population.

Methods: Age and calendar year-adjusted standardised mortality ratios (SMRs) and 95% CI were calculated to compare the number of suicides among the UK Armed Forces with the general population of the UK.

Results: Between 1984 and 2007, there were 694 suicide and open verdict deaths among male UK Armed Forces personnel. The UK Armed Forces had statistically significantly fewer suicides than expected compared with the UK general population (SMR = 58, 95% CI 54 to 63, based on 694 deaths). This was evident for each of the three Services (Naval Service, Army and Royal Air Force). For each age group, the number of suicides in each Service was lower than the number expected based on UK general population rates, except for Army males under 20 years of age, where there were 1.5 times more deaths than expected (SMR = 150, 95% CI 118 to 190, based on 68 deaths).

Conclusion: The UK Armed Forces are subject to a number of unique occupational stressors, so it is reassuring that they experience lower than expected numbers of suicides in comparison with the UK general population. This is true for each Service and all age groups except young Army males.

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