Suicide the number one cause of death in the IDF, report finds


Army says some soldiers refrain from divulging psychiatric background, making early detection a serious challenge

Despite a drop in the number of soldiers who take their own lives in recent years, a new report by the Movement for Freedom of Information reveals that suicide is still the number one cause of death in the Israeli Defense Forces, Maariv reported on Monday.

The report, based on research conducted by the government watchdog organization and data obtained from the military, said that in 2011, suicides made up 37 percent of total deaths by active soldiers, costing 21 lives. In comparison, 15 soldiers died in traffic accidents, 12 succumbed to diseases, six died in non-vehicular accidents and two were killed in combat operations.

Last week, the army released its figures on suicides in 2012, reporting that 14 soldiers took their own lives.

The Movement for Freedom of Information report also revealed that 67% of those who committed suicide during active service between 2009-2011 did not have known pre-existing psychiatric conditions, indicating that their military service may have been a significant factor in their decisions to take their own lives. Only 28% of the suicide cases between the years 2007-2011 saw an army psychiatrist before they killed themselves, the report found.

On Wednesday, the IDF released official numbers on suicides in the past decade, revealing that 237 servicemen and women took their own lives over the last 10 years.

The army’s numbers showed a steady decline in suicide cases over the past few years. Between 1991 and 1993 almost 39 soldiers committed suicide annually, the report said. The annual number dropped to 33 between 2000 and 2002, and stood at an average of “only” 23 deaths per year between 2009 and 2011.

A number of causes contributed to the decline in soldier suicides, the army said, noting the increase in army psychiatrists and the removal of guns from the hands of soldiers who didn’t need them in the line of duty.

The army refused the Movement for Freedom of Information’s request to divulge specifics on the units that the soldiers who killed themselves belonged to, citing privacy concerns, but said that of those who died in the last five years, 37 served in combat units, 22 served in combat support roles and 51 belonged to non-combat units.

The topic of military suicides made headlines in Israel in recent weeks after an anonymous blogger, calling himself Ishton, was called in for police questioning after he noted a discrepancy between the official number of new IDF casualties for 2011 (officially, 126 deaths at the time) and the smaller list of names, dates and stories on the Yizkor memorial website managed by the Defense Ministry. Among other conclusions, Ishton deduced that the military was concealing information from the public.

The post caused a public stir, and was apparently frowned upon by the army. Ishton was summoned for a police interrogation at which military investigators — who have no authority over him — were present, and was purportedly threatened with dire consequences if he continued to post in his blog and failed to reveal his sources.

Army sources said that the investigation against Ishton was launched because families of soldiers had said the blogger was staining the memory of their loved ones with false claims of suicide.

The IDF Spokesman’s Office issued the following statement in response to Maariv’s story: “The IDF considers suicide prevention vitally important. The number of suicide cases in the current year is the lowest in the past two decades. Seven years ago the IDF embarked on a program to reduce the number of suicides, which includes giving commanders the means to identify and deal with soldiers’ distress. The law stipulates that all recruits must divulge their medical information, including mental health treatments and past mental crises, before they enlist. Occasionally, due to fear of stigma or excessive motivation, the information isn’t reported by the recruits, their families or their doctors. In several past incidents, the army only learned of recurring outbreaks of mental illness after the suicide took place.”

  1. #1 by Ken on 12/31/2012 - 9:34

    Let’s blame it on Hamas 😉

  2. #2 by CK on 12/31/2012 - 9:34

    Are they haunted by the ghosts of all the little children they’ve slaughtered?

  3. #3 by B.A.Frémaux-Soormally on 12/31/2012 - 9:34

    It has been fully documented that at the time of the Jewish Christian Vietnam Holocaust, American military were as a matter of policy EXECUTED on the terrain when they disobeyed orders and many were passed as enemy casualties and even suicides.

    I would not be surprised if Israelis did the same with their conscientious objectors when the latter are on the ‘war’ zones.


  4. #4 by SEARCHLIGHT on 12/31/2012 - 9:34


  5. #5 by annebeck58 on 12/31/2012 - 9:34

    Well, we know it is not Hamas killing them..

    Funniest thing (sorry, but I find it impossible to care about their deaths, by suicide or otherwise, when I think about all of the other deaths they have caused) is that of all causes, the least number were killed in combat. Jeez. Does this not tell the world something??

    Regardless, that they all come away with some sort of psychological pathology (and i mean all of them) after service and even without ever having served (and I refer to those who believe in their party line) should be a surprise to nobody. Look at what they do to innocent civilians. I don’t think any human is able to behave in this manner without being affected/ effected. Humans are not built for that.

    I’d like to also know; of the US military suicides, in the past ten years or so, how many served IN Israhell or with IOF? That might be a big clue as to what’s going on with our own forces.
    Where might I find such info, I wonder..?

  6. #6 by Ingrid B on 01/01/2013 - 9:34

    “two were killed in combat operations.” : surely any self respecting military would be ashamed by this particular revelation, it only highlights what everyone knows, this military is composed of basically cowardly thugs, and even in that hell-hole, not everyone is cut out for a military life, personally, I don`t really care, if they die, or by who`se hand, I just want them gone from Palestine..

  7. #7 by Ingrid B on 01/01/2013 - 9:34

    btw, read on Press TV that the parasites would have no objection to talks with Hamas..

  8. #8 by bigcree1Shadowhawk on 01/01/2013 - 9:34

    Like Anne & Ingrid, I find it next to impossible to empathize with these ‘Soldiers’. They are NOT real Soldiers but are thugs in uniform who carry out daily killing, maiming, tortures,rapes and every form of barbarism against innocent people in Illegally besieged Palestine. It must be really hard for the few who may possess a bit of humanity within them somewhere despite their programming by the Rebbes and various means of Inculcation they are subjected to from cradle to grave. Gilad Atzmon and Yonatan Shapiro are two examples of fully recovered from this Cult. There have to be more, but they most likely fear speaking out due to the hysterical reaction from their handlers and fellow travelers. Yes Anne, I wonder if there is a correlation between the IOF and US Troops in this as so many of these are Dual Citizens. It is a question which begs an honest answer.

  9. #9 by Zurayda obaray on 01/01/2013 - 9:34

    Who cares how they die coz 4 sure they killed inncnt palestinians.

  10. #10 by Al on 01/02/2013 - 9:34

    Those who join the Israeli military are two groups. The first group are either mentally sick or criminals who enjoy killing others… The second group are those who are brainwashed and don’t know anything about the outside world and especially the Palestinians.

    This second group, group After approaching with the truth and reality, they get depressed and see the real criminal face or foreign policies of their government and finally commit suicide…

    We have had exactly the same scenario with those American soldiers who come back home from foreign wars and commit suicide…

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