Military Suicides: Dying for a Family

Barb Wire

The Pentagon is scrambling to explain the spike in military suicides, but maybe officials should be looking closer to home. According to new research, “the military’s suicide story is mostly about millennials.” Thanks to the University of Utah, the Defense Department is getting a clearer picture of the epidemic, which is taking more lives than combat deaths.

Desperate for bonding they aren’t getting from their parents, more young men and women are joining the military in hopes of finding it, the Washington Times explains. And it’s no coincidence that this same generation is more affected by divorce and family breakdown than any other. “This cadre, the paper says, is more likely to come from single-parent homes compared to previous generations, has more adverse childhood experiences, and suffers ‘diminished social integration.'”

After pouring over the Pentagon’s data, the research team noticed that the military suicide rate actually dropped in earlier wars. “We have a societal issue here,” said one of the authors. “I don’t think we have a military issue.” The turning point, most believe, came after 2000, when more millennials started enlisting. Suddenly, the suicide jumped at least 60 percent (and even higher in the Marines). “For millennials born between 1985 and 1989, the civilian suicide rate increased to 37.8 per 100,000, more than double that of the Depression-era group.”

As revealing as the study is, it shouldn’t be too surprising. The effects of family breakdown are affecting every facet of society. At FRC’s Marriage and Religious Research Institute (MARRI), Dr. Pat Fagan’s team has found that in countries and cultures as far apart as Denmark and China, those from intact married families are much less prone to suicide. Once again, the data shows: America has nothing to lose and everything to gain by putting a new focus on the family — and policies that encourage its formation.

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

Tony Perkins
Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law. (Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)

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