Monday, 15 July 2013

Surprising if true.

From the BBC:

More British soldiers and veterans took their own lives in 2012 than died fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan over the same period.

BBC Panorama learned that 21 serving soldiers killed themselves last year, along with 29 veterans. The Afghanistan death toll was 44, of whom 40 died in action...

The MoD said that rates of suicide and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) within the serving military were lower than comparative rates in the civilian population.*

Ho hum, those figures don't appear to be adjusted for relative numbers, i.e. there are far more ex-soldiers than serving soldiers, and far more civilians than both groups added together, but let's run with it.

We also happen to know that the most dangerous lines of work are agriculture, mining and construction (I'm not sure in what order - is there a separate category for cow-related deaths?), with a higher risk of being killed than among serving soldiers.

So let's rank those in order starting with most dangerous:

Agriculture - industrial accident
Civilian population - suicide
Serving and ex-soldiers - suicide
Serving soldiers - killed on active service**

Somehow that doesn't look right to me, but maybe it is. The other point being that we just do not look after our ex-soldiers properly - they just get turfed out in the prime of life and told to fend for themselves.

* That's their story and they are sticking to it.

** Allegedly, one-third of those deaths are accidental, however that's defined.


L fairfax said...
"That finding means that on average across the whole 30-year period, [Falklands] veterans were actually 35% less likely to kill themselves than the equivalent group of British men with no military background.

L fairfax said...

So either the report is rubbish or the Falklands war reduced the risk of suicide and the Afghan war increased it - which is hard to believe although not impossible as one was restoring freedom and the other supporting an Islamo fascist state against a different group of Islamo fascists.

Anonymous said...

LF, I linked to that Falklands thing, see first footnote.

L fairfax said...

Sorry I should read more carefully.
What puzzles me is that the journalists reporting on this ignored the falklands study.

Morgan Charles said...

Do these figures take into account that farmers have the highest rate of suicide and is there some double-counting here? Also, your list in your seventh para: are these total numbers killed or the rate of death? Not trying to pick holes, I just want to know whether I should be surprised.

Mark Wadsworth said...

LF, because that's what journalists do.

MC, I think that's just stat's for actual accidents, not farmers topping themselves*. My list is very rough and ready and I have - as stated - not tried to adjust for absolute and relative numbers.

* Which raises the question - a lot of farmers committed suicide because of depression induced chemcially by sheep dip. Does that count as "industrial accident" or "suicide"?