A report issued in the spring of 2010 estimated that 22 Veterans commit suicide every day. The same report found that as many as 950 suicide attempts each month occur among Veterans receiving services through the Veterans Administration (VA). The rate is lower, however, among Veterans aged 19-29 who are receiving services when compared to those who are not currently receiving care through the VA.
While officials speculate that a better screening and reporting system may be a factor in the increase, it is also likely that repeated deployments during the extended conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are a part of the equation. The suicide rate is also impacted by high levels of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in young veterans who served in one of these regions. One study at the San Francisco VA found that veterans were less likely to complete PTSD treatment if they were male, under the age of 25, living in a rural area or received a PTSD diagnosis from a primary care clinic rather than a mental health program.
While the VA is implementing programs to address these challenges, there are also many supports available for veterans. Perhaps the most important number for veterans in distress is the suicide hotline with counseling specifically for military service members and veterans. Counselors experienced in the specific stressors that military members face are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at (800) 273-8255.
Veteran Suicide Organizations and related resources and links
- National Alliance to End Veteran Suicide - A project of the Veterans Family Fund of America and its desire to create sustainability for our veterans and their families.
- Stop Soldier Suicide - Stop Soldier Suicide is a national veteran-led nonprofit organization determined to reduce the incidence rate of suicides among service members and veterans.
- VeteransCrisisLine.net - VA (Veterans Administration) is committed to reducing Veteran suicide and offers a network of support for all Veterans and their families and friends. Veterans in emotional crisis and their loved ones can call the confidential Veterans Crisis Line, chat online, or via text message with a caring qualified responder who can deal with any immediate crisis.
- The Soldier's Project - a non-profit organization dedicated to providing free, unlimited, confidential psychological counseling for Military Service Members, Veterans, and their loved ones.
- Invisible Casualties - Invisible Casualties: The Struggle of Military Suicides, from the Huffington Post, shines a spotlight on suicide prevention within the military and veteran communities, focusing on those who have successfully overcome struggles with substance abuse, depression and war trauma. The series features original reporting, audio, videos and articles on the topic of suicide and suicide prevention in the military/veteran community.
- Military OneSource - Policies, procedures, articles, social media tools, and support for service members, family members, service providers and command, all in one place.
Branch Specific Resources
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' Suicide Prevention Overview - List of suicide warning signs and other crisis resources.
- Coast Guard Suicide Awareness Program - Resources for Coast Guard personnel
- Navy Suicide Prevention Program
Veteran Suicide Articles
- The Epidemic of Military Suicides - a Newsweek Article from Anthony Swafford
- Why Suicide Rate Among Veterans may be more than 22 a day - from CNN
- A Veteran's Death, A Nation's Shame - From the New York Times
- First Lady, Michelle Obama, urges vets struggling with suicide to seek help - (video)
- Fighting the Stigma of Military Suicide - Video from HuffPost