The U.S. Military’s Broken Culture Around Sexual Violence and Suicide

December 1, 2021

A recent New York Times column examines the U.S. military’s high rate of suicides and its possible connection with deficiencies in prevention of and response to sexual assault.

Despite years of effort and tens of millions of dollars invested in prevention research and programs, suicide continues to afflict military communities. Last year there was a statistically significant increase in the rate of suicide deaths by active duty troops in all services — the highest rate since 2008, when the Pentagon began keeping detailed records, according to the Defense Department’s latest annualsuicide report.

Additionally, a report by the Defense Department inspector general this month indicates that although the number of sexual assault complaints has doubled in the past decade, the services often cut corners when it comes to investigating and prosecuting them. Sexual trauma is associated with an increased risk of suicide and is more likely than combat to lead to post-traumatic stress for both men and women. While combat troops get time to recover from their deployments, victims of sexual trauma are often sidelined or forcibly discharged.

 Read more:  The Military’s Broken Culture Around Sexual Violence and Suicide (

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