IDF reveals closely-guarded statistics on soldier suicides: 24 take their own lives every year

Kiryat Shaul military cemetery. Photo by Dan Keinan

Information about suicides in the IDF was first published by an anonymous Israeli blogger who was subsequently investigated by Israel Police and the Military Police.

By Gili Cohen | Dec.27, 2012 | HAARETZ ISRAEL

In the last 10 years, 237 soldiers killed themselves, according to official statistics released by the Israel Defense Forces. That works out to an average of 24 conscripts taking their own lives each year.

The suicide rate has been declining for the past few years, and that the same is expected to be true this year, an army source said on Wednesda.

Nevertheless, there have been fluctuations. In 2005, 36 soldiers committed suicide, but the rate has declined ever since. In 2009, 21 cut short their lives, while the number rose to 27 in 2010, but dropped again the following year. In contrast, an average of 40 soldiers killed themselves each year between 1990 and 2000.

The relative drop over the past decade can be attributed to several actions taken by the IDF: appointment of more mental health officers and psychiatrists ‏(today, for example, there is a psychiatrist assigned to every IDF division‏); increased control over the distribution of firearms to young soldiers; abd greater involvement on the part of commanders in an attempt to head off suicides.

Release of the official data comes in the wake of information about suicides in the IDF first published by an anonymous blogger, known as “Eishton,” who was subsequently investigated by Israel Police and the Military Police. The blogger found a significant disparity between the official casualty statistics published by the various security forces, and the number of “remembrance” pages on the official commemoration website, “Yizkor”. The blogger concluded that the actual number of suicides was much higher than the official statistics show

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