United States military veteran suicide

United States military veteran suicide[1][2] is an ongoing phenomenon regarding a reportedly high rate of suicide among U.S. military veterans, in comparison to the general public.[3] According to the most recent report published by the VA in 2016, which analyzed 55 million Veterans' records from 1979 to 2014, the current analysis indicates that an average of 20 Veterans a day die from suicide.[4]


In 2012, an estimated 6,500 former military personnel died by suicide. More veterans succumbed to suicide than were killed in Iraq: 177 active-duty soldiers died by suicide compared to 176 soldiers killed in combat. In 2012, the study concluded that Army had the highest number of suicides compared to any other service branch.[1]

In 2013, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs released a study that covered suicides from 1999 to 2010, which showed that roughly 22 veterans were dying by suicide per day, or one every 65 minutes.[5] Some sources suggest that this rate may be undercounting suicides.[6] A recent analysis found a suicide rate among veterans of about 30 per 100,000 population per year, compared with the civilian rate of 14 per 100,000.[6][7] However, the comparison was not adjusted for age and sex.

The total number of suicides differs by age group; 31% of these suicides were by veterans 49 and younger while 69% were by veterans aged 50 and older.[8] As with suicides in general, suicide of veterans is primarily male, with about 97 percent of the suicides being male in the states that reported gender.[7]

In 2015, the Clay Hunt Veterans Suicide Prevention Act passed in the Senate[9] and was then enacted as Pub.L. 114–2 on February 12, 2015.

Annual number of suicides per 100,000 population. 2000-2010.[10][11]
Never served
in military
Veterans and
active service
Women 5.2 28.7
Men 20.9 32.1

In August 2016, the VA released a new report which consisted of the nation's largest analysis of Veteran Suicide. The report reviewed more than 55 million Veterans' records from 1979 to 2014 from every state in the nation. The previous report from 2012 was primarily limited to data on Veterans who used VHA health services or from mortality records obtained directly from 20 states and approximately 3 million records. Compared to the data from the 2012 report, which estimated the number of Veteran deaths by suicide to be 22 per day, the current analysis indicates that in 2014, an average of 20 Veterans a day died from suicide.[12]


A study published in the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine found that,

Combat veterans are not only more likely to have suicidal ideation, often associated with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression, but they are more likely to act on a suicidal plan. Especially since veterans may be less likely to seek help from a mental health professional, non-mental-health physicians are in a key position to screen for PTSD, depression, and suicidal ideation in these patients.

The same study also found that in veterans with PTSD related to combat experience, combat-related guilt may be a significant predictor of suicidal ideation and attempts.[13]

Craig Bryan of the University of Utah National Center for Veterans Studies said that veterans have the same risk factors for suicide as the general population, including feelings of depression, hopelessness, post-traumatic stress disorder, a history of trauma, and access to firearms.[7]


Critics of this reporting such as author Tim Worstall in Feb. 2013 claim that there is no epidemic when comparing similar demographic cohorts in the civilian population. He points out that since vets are predominantly male, the suicide rate to compare to is not the general civilian rate, but the rate for males.[14]

See also


  1. 1 2 February 1, 2013. Ed Pilkington. US military struggling to stop suicide epidemic among war veterans. The Guardian. Retrieved: 23 May 2014.
  2. April 3, 2014. Jordain Carney. . National Journal. Retrieved: 23 May 2014.
  3. January 10, 2014. Denver Nicks. Report: Suicide Rate Soars Among Young Vets. "The suicide rate among veterans remains well above that for the general population, with roughly 20 former servicemen and women committing suicide every day." TIME. Retrieved: 23 May 2014.
  4. http://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/docs/2016suicidedatareport.pdf
  5. February 1, 2013. U.S. military veteran suicides rise, one dies every 65 minutes. Reuters. Retrieved: 23 May 2014.
  6. 1 2 Moni Basu, Why suicide rate among veterans may be more than 22 a day, CNN, November 14, 2013. Retrieved: 25 December 2014
  7. 1 2 3 Jeff Hargarten, Forrest Burnson, Bonnie Campo and Chase Cook, Veteran Suicides Twice as High as Civilian Rates, News21, Aug. 24, 2013. Retrieved: 25 December 2014.
  8. February 5, 2013. Melanie Haiken. Suicide Rate Among Vets and Active Duty Military Jumps - Now 22 A Day. Forbes. Retrieved: 23 May 2014.
  9. "Clay Hunt veterans suicide prevention act passes in Senate, will head to White House".
  10. Zarembo, Alan (2015-06-08). "Suicide rate of female military veterans is called staggering". LA Times. Retrieved 2016-07-18.
  11. Changes in Suicide Mortality for Veterans and Nonveterans by Gender and History of VHA Service Use, 2000–2010. By Claire A. Hoffmire, Ph.D., Janet E. Kemp, R.N., Ph.D., Robert M. Bossarte, Ph.D.. Published online: May 01, 2015. Psychiatric Services, Volume 66 Issue 9, September 01, 2015, pp. 959-965. doi:10.1176/appi.ps.201400031.
  12. "VA Releases Report on Nation's Largest Analysis of Veteran Suicide". Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs. Retrieved 9 September 2016.
  13. Leo Sher, MD. Maria Dolores Braquehais, MD, PhD. Miquel Casas, MD, PhD. Posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, and suicide in veterans. doi:10.3949/ccjm.79a.11069. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine. February 2012. vol. 79 2 92-97. Retrieved: 25 May 2014.
  14. But There Isn't An Epidemic Of Suicide In The US Military. By Tim Worstall. Feb 2, 2013. Forbes.

Further reading

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