The Department of National Defence releases 2020 report on suicide mortality
June 2, 2021 – Ottawa – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces
Today, the Department of National Defence (DND) released the 2020 Report on Suicide Mortality in the Canadian Armed Forces. The findings from this report helps National Defence better understand suicide in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), and further refine our ongoing suicide prevention efforts. Additionally, the report will help DND make evidence-based decisions regarding investments in the CAF health and support programs.
The annual report is just one part of the CAF’s broad suicide prevention efforts described in the Canadian Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Canada’s Joint Suicide Prevention Strategy.
The Department of National Defence understands that military members can encounter stressful and sometimes traumatic situations as a result of the work they do in service to our country. Suicide prevention remains a top priority for the CAF. While CAF members have access to a comprehensive, evidence-based, interdisciplinary primary care and mental health system, the CAF continuously strives towards reducing barriers to care, including reducing the stigma around mental illness. Numerous investments have been made to bolster CAF education and awareness programs regarding mental health and suicide, and the CAF is constantly working to enhance our health care programs and services for our members.
“When we lose a Canadian Armed Forces member to suicide, it has a lasting and tragic effect on their families, friends, colleagues and the Defence Team as a whole. Suicide prevention is a top priority for the Canadian Armed Forces and we want every one of our members to know that if you are suffering, please reach out – there is help and support available for you.”
― Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of Defence
“In addition to reducing the stigma around mental health issues, we are constantly working to improve the high quality health care programs and services that we offer to our members. As clinicians, we know how important it is to remove barriers to care and support those in crisis. This means encouraging an open dialogue when it comes to mental health, and investing in the education and awareness programs required to help our members.”
― Major-General Marc Bilodeau, Surgeon General of the Canadian Armed Forces
The Surgeon General Report on Suicide Mortality in the Canadian Armed Forces has been released annually since 2008, and provides information on deaths due to suicide in the actively serving CAF population. Every death due to suicide that is reported to Canadian Forces Health Services is investigated. That said, the statistical analysis in the 2020 Report on Suicide Mortality focuses on Regular Force males because the number of known deaths due to suicide in females and Reserve Force members is too small for accurate statistical analysis.
The 2020 Surgeon General’s annual Suicide Mortality Report is an update covering the period from 1995 to 2019.
From 1995 to 2019, there was no statistically significant change in the overall suicide rate of CAF Regular Force males.
The number of Regular Force males who died by suicide is consistent with the age-adjusted male suicide rates in the Canadian general population.
The reasons for deaths due to suicide can be complex. There are typically multiple potential contributing factors for each death from suicide.
Department of National Defence
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