Veteran and military suicides is something very close to my heart. It is estimated that between 18-22 veterans a day commit suicide every day. While it is impossible to know each and every reason why veterans choose to end their lives, it is clearly become an epidemic. Since September is Suicide Awareness Month, I’m bring awareness to this issue.
One veteran ends his/her life every day. 22 Veterans end their lives everyday. On July 23, 2012 Time Magazine reported that one veteran every day was committing suicide. At the time this was a shocking and scary number. However the truth got even scarier when CNN reported on November 14, 2013 (Why suicide rate among veterans may be more than 22 a day)as many 22 veterans end their lives every day. That’s about 1 every 65 minutes. This number is still only an estimate since there is no uniform way of tracking suicides, it’s hard to get an official tally. As CNN reports “Part of the problem, she says [Luana Ritch, the veterans and military families coordinator in Nevada],is that there is no uniform reporting system for deaths in America. It’s usually up to a funeral director or a coroner to enter veteran status and suicide on a death certificate. Veteran status is a single question on the death report, and there is no verification of it from the Defense Department or the VA.” Part of the problem is that not every suicide is counted as a suicide (intentional drug overdoes, suicide by cop, intentional car crash).
2.Even though veterans account for only 10% of the population, they account for 20% of the suicides. One in five veterans is the guesstimate of how many veterans end up committing suicide. There’s no much that else that can be said about this.
3. 30% of veterans have considered suicide at some point. The IAVA (Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America) conducted a survey conducted a survey in which 30% of veterans admitted to have considered suicide.
4. 45% of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans know a veteran who attempted suicide- That means that almost half of the Iraq and Afghanistan veteran community had first hand experience with military suicides. This proves that suicide amongst the veteran community is a very clear and present danger to the lives of veterans.
5. Military Sexual Trauma, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Traumatic Brain Injury are significant risk factors in military suicides- According to the VA’s PTSD webpage The Relationship Between PTSD and Suicide, “A history of military sexual trauma (MST) also increases the risk for suicide and intentional self-harm, suggesting a need to screen for suicide risk in this population”. Also in regards to OIF/OEF veterans the page states, “With respect to OIF/OEF Veterans, PTSD has been found to be a risk factor for suicidal ideation (17). Subthreshold PTSD also carries risk. A recent study found that among OIF/OEF Veterans, those with subthreshold PTSD were 3 times more likely to report hopelessness or suicidal ideation than those without PTSD”
6. Military and veteran suicides outnumber combat fatalities- The scary reality more veterans end their own lives than by dying at the hands of enemy forces.
6. There is a certain stigma about getting help from a mental health professional for psychological wounds- Common sense states if you’re sick with an infectious disease, you see a doctor for medication. If you get a bad cut that requires stitches or you break a bone, you go to a hospital. However because psychological wounds are not as observable, society generally doesn’t accept it as a real illness or a legitimate injury to get help for. In fact, most of the time veterans are told to “get over it” or “it’s only in your head”. Another stigma is that veteran who get diagnosed with PTSD is unbalanced or psychotic. Very rarely is there moral/emotional support for a veteran to get help. It is important to rid the stigma about seeking help from a mental health professional. Seeking help from a mental health professional could end up save a veteran’s life. But to put into perspective:
So there you have it, some basics about military suicides. Thanks to CNN article “Why suicide rate among veterans may be more than 22 a day” byMoni Basu on Thu November 14, 2013 for the info and graphics. If you know a veteran who is contemplating suicide, please don’t stand by and think they’ll get over it. If you need help call the Veteran’s Crisis Line: