As published on, 11/10/14
Image and PDF courtesy of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Financial stress is a leading factor in military suicide, as Financial Planning has reported. As America observes Veterans Day, consider the following statistics on the human and financial cost of service members who take their own lives.

1. The military pays $500,000 in life insurance and death benefits to the survivors of each active-duty service member or reservist who dies, including by suicide.

2. That brings the cost of 474 suicides in 2013 to about $237 million in life insurance and death benefit payouts, not including the additional cost of losing trained personnel.

3. For every soldier who loses a job for financial reasons, the military spends $57,000 related to retraining a new service member. Much of that job loss is due to high indebtedness.

4. Between 4,700 and 8,000 soldiers lose their jobs annually for financial reasons, resulting in annual costs of between $267 million and $456 million for the military.

5. That brings the combined cost of suicides and job loss for financial reasons to between $500 million and $690 million annually.

6. Assuming it takes between 20 and 40 hours for a financial planner to help a soldier with severe debts to resolve those debts and keep his or her job, as it did for one soldier, that would come at an estimated cost of between $2,500 and $4,000 per soldier, based on pay scales for planners who work for the military. Some planners say these amounts would be much lower for less complicated cases.

7. If financial planning could have prevented a third of the suicides in 2012, or 158 in all, the cost would have totaled about $632,000, while the savings would have come to $79 million.

8. If half the soldiers with financial problems could have kept their jobs instead of losing them in 2012 as a result of financial planning interventions, it would have cost up to $10 million to $16 million for financial planners, while saving $128 million to $228 million.

Is it worth spending tens of millions of dollars on enhanced financial planning remedies for soldiers in financial crises to potentially save many lives and hundreds of millions of dollar? Let us know your thoughts: comment on the story below.

If you would like to learn more about 2015 Suicide Facts and Figures, Download this PDF from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention or visit the AFSP website for more information.

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