Suicide Rate among Veterans Has Risen Sharply Since 2001

July 15, 2016

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News

The New York Times

While the suicide rate among adult civilians has increased 23 percent since 2001, the rate among veterans has increased 35 percent, according to new data from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Examining the death records of more than 55 million veterans from 1979 to 2014 from every state, the VA has conducted the most comprehensive analysis of veteran suicide in the nation. Although suicide rates rose across all age groups, the steepest increase was found among veterans aged 18 to 29, with rates nearly twice as high as all other age groups. The suicide rate among female veterans, which may have been underestimated in previous analyses, also rose disproportionately, increasing 85 percent since 2001. Veterans who received care at the VA were found to have significantly lower rates of suicide than those who did not. Said VA Undersecretary for Health David Shulkin, “Too many people are falling through the cracks between active service and when they get to the VA.” Although the number of veterans who died by suicide per day decreased from 22 in 2012 to 20 in 2014, suicide prevention experts have cautioned against the usefulness of the statistic, which does not reflect the overall increase in suicide rates in the veteran population.

Spark Extra! Read the key findings of the VA analysis and a statement from the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention.