MKs Demand IDF Action on Soldier Suicides

A Knesset report released Monday said that 124 IDF soldiers committed suicide between 2007 and 2012.

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David Lev,

Soldiers in training exercise (illustrative)
Soldiers in training exercise (illustrative)
Israel news photo: Flash 90

A Knesset report on suicide rates in the Israel Defense Forces was released Monday.

According to the report, out of the 124 IDF soldiers who committed suicide between 2007 and 2012, 63% were native born Israelis, and 37% were immigrants. Eight times more male soldiers than female soldiers committed suicide.

Those committing suicide were members of various IDF service corps, as well as police officers. 2010 registered as the year with the most suicides, with 27. In 2012, 14 soldiers and police officers committed suicide.

Most of those committing suicide (84%) were soldiers in regular service, with 74% of them between the ages of 21 and 28. Only 20% of those committing suicide did so after they finished their three year required service stint.

60% of suicide instances occurred when soldiers were on base and on active duty, with 40% taking place when soldiers were on leave. The vast majority of suicides were committed using guns, with 103 soldiers shooting themselves - although most did not use their IDF-issued weapons to kill themselves.

The authors of the study sought to do an analysis of suicides in the IDF as compared with suicides in the U.S. Army, but found that there is almost no historical data on suicides by Israeli soldiers. The authors told MKs that the IDF had refused to supply information on the phenomenon.

MK Dov Hanin (Hadash), who presented the report to the Knesset, said that the numbers were worrying, and demanded that the army be more open in discussing ways to prevent soldier suicides.