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Suicide among veterans of the United States military

Suicide among veterans of the United States military

Suicide among veterans of the United States military is an ongoing phenomenon with 23 veterans committing suicide every day. This translates to a suicide every 65 minutes.


Between 2007 and 2010, the number of deaths from suicide in the U.S. increased by nearly 11%. Annual suicide rates among U.S. adults aged 35 to 64 increased from 13.7 to 17.6 suicides per 100,000 people between 1999 and 2010. Rates of suicide among middle-age men in the general population have increased during the past three years. Suicide rates among those aged 50-54 years increased by 48 percent, while for those aged 55-59 years increased by 49 percent.

An interesting statistic is the fact that the rate of suicide in women jumped higher (32 %) compared to that of men (27 %).


The most alarming thing is that these figures do not represent the whole picture. These figures were taken from a report by 21 states, which represent only 40 percent of the US population! Other states have not made their data available, including the two biggest states of Texas and California. This means that there are many suicides that have not been accounted for.


While the starting point is among veterans of the Vietnam War, who have the highest suicide rates compared to other groups, this is a problem that affects everyone.  There are 8 million Americans who report having suicidal thoughts, while 1.1 million will actually attempt suicide. The most affected group of people are males, by a 4 to 1 margin, and they are mostly single and don’t have college education. The bad news is that an estimated 38,000 people end up killing themselves. These shocking statistics point to a growing problem that needs to be addressed immediately.


The good news is that help is at hand, and the Veterans Crisis Line (as part of the National Suicide Prevention hotline) can be able to assist. The help line was established in 2007 when the Department of Veterans Affairs partnered with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The helpline is handled by veterans and many people have received valuable assistance when they call. Approximately 19% of calls to the Veterans Crisis Line call more than once each month. A majority of veteran suicides are among those age 50 years and older, and the majority of Veterans who have a suicide event were last seen in an outpatient setting.


Men are more likely to become lonely and they have a more difficult time either maintaining or replacing relationships compared to women, and things get tougher for men when they reach middle age. Men are very busy with their jobs or they tie their personal relationships to their jobs, and so when they’ve lost their jobs, it also means an end to their relationships. Someone who is not very stable in his or her personal life will also be less stable at the workplace.


Even though we can’t provide all the solutions, we can prevent suicide by providing people with social connections. Everyone wants to feel valued in their individual capacities and at their workplace. This will make them feel protected and their level of happiness will be higher. It’s important to realize that we have the power to stop the high prevalence of suicide in our society, especially among war veterans. The Veterans Crisis Line receives over 250,000 calls every year from war veterans and those who are still active in the military.


When you call the National Suicide Prevention hotline, choose option number 1 and you will find another veteran on the other end of the telephone line. This is a person who has been in war, and so he or she understands exactly what you are going through. Your spirit will be lifted by knowing that someone somewhere has been in a similar situation to yours and has still found a way to cope. If you or a loved one is in need of counseling, you can call us today. The Veteran Crisis Line is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by trained Veteran Affairs employees with backgrounds in mental health services (1-800-273-TALK). Remember, when you call as a veteran, you will be prompted to choose option number one.

The crisis line is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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