IDF troops Hebron 22.9.13 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Four of the 14 soldiers who committed suicide in 2012 were immigrants, IDF
Mental Health Department head Eyal Fruchter told the Knesset Immigration,
Absorption and Diaspora Committee on Sunday.
Fruchter said these are the
lowest numbers in recent years, following a program to prevent suicides the army
initiated in 2006.
MKs complained that the IDF did not release annual
suicide rates, but Fruchter said that the IDF opposes making the numbers public,
to prevent “contagion and imitation” that would lead to an
Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Committee chairman Yoel
Razbozov said that, as someone who immigrated to Israel and was familiar with
absorption problems, he was sure the military could and must do more to prevent
“IDF anti-suicide activities must include instructors
from Ethiopia and the former Soviet Union who understand the problems different
communities have and can support the young soldiers in times of need,” Razbozov
He added that his committee would see to it that the army paid
special attention to making sure immigrant soldiers did not commit
According to a Knesset Research and Information Center report
from July, 123 IDF soldiers committed suicide between 2007 and 2012. Most of
them (82 percent) were in their years of mandatory service, 74% were ages 18-21
and most were not in combat units.
In addition, 37% of the soldiers
committing suicide were born abroad. Over half of those soldiers were from the
former Soviet Union, and 22% were from Ethiopia.
The Defense Ministry did
not provide information on the number of suicide attempts.
Information Center manager Dr. Shirley Avrami suggested to Fruchter in the
Knesset committee meeting that the IDF “release information responsibly,” in a
way that did not glorify the act but told soldiers in distress that they were
not alone and could ask for help.