Immigrants account for a third of IDF soldier suicides

123 IDF soldiers committed suicide between 2007 and 2012; 14 soldiers killed themselves in 2012.

IDF troops Hebron 22.9.13 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
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 increase.
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 such tragedies.
“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 said.
He added that his committee would see to it that the army paid special attention to making sure immigrant soldiers did not commit suicide.
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.
Research and 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.