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Israelis and Palestinians Killed in the Current Violence

Suicide No. 1 Cause of Death in IDF

43 soldiers committed suicide in 2003, a 30% increase. In comparison, 30 soldiers were killed during military operations.

By Amir Rapoport
From the Israeli paper, Maariv International
July 15, 2004

The greatest fear of a family sending their children to the army is that they will be killed during a military operation but an internal report conducted by the security services reveals that parents should be more concerned about suicide.

According to a report prepared by the Rehabilitation Division in the Ministry of Defense referring to 2003, the number of soldiers who committed suicide was significantly higher than the number of soldiers killed during military action or who died from any other cause.

The report disclosed that for the first time, suicide became the leading cause of death in the IDF. Last year, 43 soldiers committed suicide, in contrast with 30 soldiers who were killed during military operations, a 30% increase in the number of suicides in comparison with 2002, when 31 soldiers took their own lives.

Last year, 32 soldiers died of illness, 27 in traffic accidents or during vacations, and 10 were killed in traffic accidents while on duty. Nine soldiers were killed during training practice exercises and four during the course of military operations. Eight soldiers died due to other reasons.

Ministry of Defense data further revealed that suicide is not a transient phenomenon. In the first half of 2004 alone, 15 additional soldiers killed themselves.

The rise in the number of suicides in the IDF in 2003, and the fact that suicide has become the number 1 cause of death, has stunned the IDF. Senior security sources who received the report requested that steps be taken in order to fight the phenomenon. Criticism was heard within the IDF regarding the fact that the army “not only has not been able to reduce the number of suicides over the years, but the phenomenon has actually increased”.

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