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How Common Is Suicide among Recent Veterans?

Many Americans are concerned about the mental health of our returning veterans, especially those who have been wounded or suffer from PTSD. And there is cause for concern, as recent military veterans commit suicide at a rate that is 50% higher than nonmilitary civilians of similar age and background. A recent analysis, published in the February 2015 issue of the Annals of Epidemiology, included all 1,282,074 US soldiers who were on active duty between 2001 and 2007. The study tracked former servicemen and servicewomen until the end of 2009, by which time 1,868 of those veterans had taken their own lives.

The study found that among these recent returnees, there has been one suicide a day. Men accounted for 83% of the veterans in the study and most of the suicides. They were three times more likely than women to take their own lives.

The issue of veteran suicide has become an especially hot topic in the last few years, after a 2012 US Department of Veterans Affairs study reported that an average of 22 US veterans take their own lives every day. However, that study focused primarily on older veterans and examined veteran suicides in just 21 states.

More about veterans and suicide:

  • The Annals of Epidemiology study found the suicide rate was still 16% higher among veterans who never deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq compared to people of similar background who had never served in the military. This could suggest that the causes of veteran suicide may extend beyond the trauma of experiencing combat first-hand.

  • Veterans in the rank and file committed suicide at nearly twice the rate of former officers. Keeping with patterns in the general population, being white, unmarried and male were also risk factors.

  • The suicide rates were highest during the first three years out of the military.

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More Info: Los Angeles Times

Discuss this Article

anon994115
Post 2

The US military spends millions of dollars teaching our kids how to kill but when their service is over it's "bye bye, have a nice life!"

There should be a period at least as long as basic training where the soldier is "weaned" back to civilian life. where psychologists can observe and recommend treatment for those who need it, but that probably isn't cost effective! If there already is such a program, they are doing a very bad job of it.

Mike6569
Post 1

It's damage control 101. GWS was initially dismissed as malingering. No mention of the health of the returning vets.

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