Ministry of Defence
The Ministry of Defence work for a secure and prosperous United Kingdom with global reach and influence. We will protect our people, territories, values and interests at home and overseas, through strong armed forces and in partnership with allies, to ensure our security, support our national interests and safeguard our prosperity.
How does your organisation contribute to preventing suicide and supporting those affected by it?
In UK Defence, people are vital to us achieving our aims. Looking after our people by managing stress, improving resilience, reducing stigma and providing excellent mental health and welfare support is key.
The Ministry of Defence has a People Health and Wellbeing Strategy updated in 2022, which includes a focus on suicide prevention. The Armed Forces Suicide Prevention Strategy and Action Plan 2023 seeks to improve coherence of existing and future suicide provision. We seek to understand the causes and risk factors that contribute to suicide and to do what we can to reduce the level as much as we can.
Within Defence, and the Single Services (Royal Navy, Army, Royal Air Force), we have a range of experts who contribute to suicide prevention. This includes medical and mental health professionals, welfare support, personnel and policy experts, and a range of other stakeholders.
What are your current priorities?
Welfare provision, mental health, mental wellbeing and resilience are amongst our priorities in this area.
For the latest twenty-year period the UK regular Armed Forces remain at a significantly lower risk of suicide than the UK general population. Since 2017, the suicide rate among army males aged 20-24 years is rising and is higher than general population rates. This is different to trends within the general population where males aged 45 to 50 have higher rates of suicide.
What challenges are you currently facing?
Suicide is complex and multifactorial. We may never know the reasons why someone takes their life. There are no easy solutions. We wish to understand more about the causes and risk factors for suicide. Defence is a large and complex organisation and conducting near real-time analytics is a challenge for cases of suspected suicide. We wish to collaborate with civilian organisations to share best practice and help us improve how we best support our People.
Support available: If you need urgent help you can call the Samaritans on 116 123, or call the MOD’s 24/7 mental health line on 0800 323 4444.