7

An image posted on reddit this week has been getting a lot of attention.

The image is of a mural claiming that in 2009, 304 US soilders committed suicide compared to 149 killed in Iraq.

What is the veracity of this claim?

Additionally what is the context in regards to the situation in Iraq as well as who is actually defined as a 'soilder'? (I.e Army only/all military, serving/non serving, deployed/not deployed etc etc)

My question is about this claim specifically, numbers and facts pertaining to 2009 and Iraq.

This should not be ignored

  • It should be noted that (per Google) the US suicide rate is about 13 per 100,000, with men stated to have a much larger rate. (Curiouisly, Google can't seem to find a simple number for the male suicide rate.) The US military has about 1.4 million troops, 85% of whom are male. It thus seems (without doing actual math) that the military suicide rate might not be out of line with that of the general population. – jamesqf Mar 6 '17 at 1:52
  • The ratio also looks comparable to civilian gun deaths in the US. – J Doe Mar 7 '17 at 0:53
7

Yes (almost), in 2009 302 US active duty military deaths were due to suicide, and on the same year 149 US soldiers were killed in Iraq.

According to a study of war-related deaths published by the Congressional Research Service in there were a total of 1515 active duty military deaths, of them 302 were self inflicted and 346 were as a result of hostile action. (Table 5, page 8).

To get the number of casualties just in Iraq, according to icasualties.org there were 149 US deaths in Iraq in 2009, of those, 75 were non-hostile fatalities.

2

The Iraq KIA figures are supported by iCasualties.org, though I cannot determine what their sources are. A similar secondary source exists here, which provides data showing that 143 soldiers were killed in Iraq in 2009. The 149 figure is also supported here, though you have to register to see the sources.

A good primary resource put together by the CBO exists here, though specific numbers for the year in question are not provided.

The Defense Manpower Data Center is a good primary resource, which has a tool here that lists out total military deaths by year with a few of the major causes broken out, the data for 2009 is below:

Year     Active Duty      ...  Total Deaths    ...   Self-Inflicted
2009     1,421,668        ...     1,515        ...        302

DMDC records 302 deaths that were self-inflicted in 2009, which is extremely close to the number claimed.

I think it should be noted that, according to the CBO report, 2009 in Iraq was 'post-surge', and represented a period of relative calm (just looking at the numbers, much lower KIA/wounded for coalition forces than the period before it), and at the same time Afghanistan was 'pre-surge' (or currently-surging, depending on how you wish to look at it) and much more dangerous, statistically speaking, than Iraq at the same time. So, while the claim is both fairly accurate and terrible in and of itself, it is ignoring deaths of military individuals in other theatres to make its point. It could just as easily make the same point by stating that in 2009, according to DoD, almost 20% of total deaths of military personnel were caused by suicide.

As far as 'Who Is A Soldier', the numbers claimed in the secondary sources make no distinction. DoD reports numbers for active duty, as well as activated National Guard and Reserve casualties from all 4 branches of the military. Defense contractor deaths are not counted in these numbers.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .