Addressing Suicide Rates Among Veterans & Service Members

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Addressing Suicide Rates Among Veterans & Service Members

45,390 American adults died from suicide in 2017—6,139 of those were U.S. Veterans. Historically, veterans have suffered from a higher rate of suicide than the general public, and service member suicides continue to rise among the younger population. According to the Pentagon’s 2018 Annual Suicide Report

In Calendar Year (CY) 2018, there were 541 Service members who died by suicide. CY 2018 rates increased in the Active Component over the last five years, while remaining steady in the Reserve and National Guard during this same timeframe. However, suicide rates were consistent with rates from the past two years across all Components (Active, Reserve, and National Guard).” 

In an effort to reduce the number of veterans and active duty who choose to end their lives, the VA has increased mental health staffing and established the VA’s Mental Health Services as well as the Military Crisis Line for active duty members to create suicide surveillance criteria and clinical support. New prevention measures are also being rolled out to try and curb the growing epidemic among the military community.

Veteran Suicide Statistics

According to the 2019 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report:

 

  • Veteran suicides exceeded 6,000 each year from 2008 to 2017.
  • There were 15.9 Veteran suicides per day in 2005 and 16.8 in 2017.
  • In 2017, the suicide rate for Veterans was 1.5 times the rate for non-Veteran adults.
  • Firearms were the method of suicide in 70.7% of male Veteran suicide deaths and 43.2% of female Veteran suicide deaths in 2017.

Young Service Member Suicide Rate Continues to Rise

According to figures released by the Pentagon in 2017, the number of males enlisted under the age of 30 who commit suicide is the highest.  This demographic makes up 46% of the military population, but about 60% of military suicides. 

The reason for the troubling spike in self-inflicted deaths among veterans is unclear. While the suicide rate among older veterans remains lower overall, younger vets are taking their own life at a faster pace. About two young veterans commit suicide each day, usually within a few years of leaving the military.

Yet there is good news included in the report; the addition of more expansive mental health programs has decreased the suicide rate among veterans who seek care within the VA health system. Of the recorded 22 deaths a day, only about five are patients within the VA system. This indicates the importance of the program but also highlights the challenge of expanding outreach and persuading veterans to seek care, especially younger men and women.

Help is Available for Veterans & Service Members 

If you or a loved one is contemplating suicide, please seek the immediate care of a doctor or mental health professional. The Military Crisis Hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at (800)-273-8255, press 1. It serves veterans, all service members, national guard, reserves and dependants. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is also always available at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

In the unfortunate circumstance that a loved one decides to end his or her life, compassionate and professional suicide cleanup may be necessary. In a time of crisis, the professionals at Aftermath Services lift the burden of responsibility concerning proper cleanup procedures. We are dedicated to providing emergency rapid response 24/7/365, so we’ll be there whenever and wherever you need us.

Additional Resources for Veterans & Service Members


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