2013 marks lowest suicide rate in IDF history

This year's suicide rate down by 50 percent from 2012; reduction due to preventative steps, IDF says.

January 1, 2014 18:11
1 minute read.
A soldier reflects

A soldier reflects. (photo credit: Micha Bar-Am)


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Suicide rates in the IDF have fallen to their lowest level in the military’s history, according to figures that the army unveiled on Wednesday.

Seven soldiers took their own lives in 2013 – half the number of suicides recorded in 2012 (14), and a third of those in 2011 (21).

The statistics point to a 75-percent decrease in suicides since 2010, when the army recorded 28 cases.

Army sources attributed the reduction to a combination of preventative steps, including a computer system that provides personal histories of soldiers, warnings of crisis points before they occur, and an increase in commanders’ involvement in their soldiers’ personal affairs. IDF soldiers have also created periodic committees to examine the state of individual soldiers.

“Our activities, including a computerized system giving commanders preliminary information about a soldier, reducing availability to weapons, [and] passing on values and messages to choose life, are what reduced the phenomenon of suicides to its lowest point ever,” said Brig.-Gen. Moshe Alush, the IDF Personnel Directorate’s chief of staff.

Meanwhile, sources in the Personnel Directorate revealed on Wednesday that the IDF was continuing searches for the bodies of fallen soldiers from the Yom Kippur War. Methods of trying to track down the remains cannot be disclosed, the sources said.

The IDF says that in total, the location of 179 fallen soldiers’ burial spots remains unknown. Out of those, the biggest number of missing bodies, 98, is from the 1948 War of Independence.

Five soldiers are considered to be officially missing in action: three who were last seen at the battle of Sultan Yacoub in 1982’s First Lebanon War; Ron Arad, the navigator kidnapped in Lebanon in 1986; and Guy Hever, who went missing in 1997, last seen at his base on the Golan Heights.

In 2013, five soldiers were killed by hostile action, the same number as in 2012.

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