Military suicide prevention
The high rate of suicide deaths of both active military members and military veterans is a daunting issue across the country.
According to the Department of Veteran Affairs there are more than 6,000 veteran suicides per year, and the suicide rate of veterans is 1.5 times higher than the general U.S. population.
There were more active-duty deaths by suicide in 2018 than any year in at least six years. The latest figures break down to almost 17 veterans and four active-duty deaths by suicide occur each day.
In addition to the VA, the Department of Defense and its Defense Suicide Prevention Office, Homeland Security and several non-profit organizations have dedicated resources to decreasing suicide risk among veterans and currently military members. In fact, there is a suicide prevention hotline specifically for military members and veterans that can be reached 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255, via text message at 838255, or through an online chat.
The VA has also published a suicide prevention 14-goal plan that covers 10 years from 2018 to 2028 to reduce the suicide risk of the country’s more than 20 million veterans. According to the plan, the 14 goals and 43 objectives covered in the National Strategy for Preventing Veteran Suicide aim to promote wellness, increase protection, reduce risk and promote effective treatment and recovery. Together, it represents a comprehensive, long-term approach to veteran and military suicide prevention.
Suicide risk factors for military members and veterans
- Being a young, unmarried male
- A recent return from deployment
- Combat-related psychological injuries
- Lack of advancement or career setback
- A sense of a loss or honor, disciplinary actions