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In honor of those who have served, we are recognizing the tragedy of military veteran suicide on this Memorial Day Holiday.  What we know about military veteran suicide is that a number of clinical, historical and developmental factors have been shown to contribute to this fatal event.  Recent studies of suicide by veterans have revealed some important trends. 

Mental Health Factors Associated with Military Veteran Suicide:

Of 158 veterans who died by committing suicide 55.05% did not have any KNOWN history of a mental illness or disorder.

Of those who had a known history of mental illness or a psychiatric disorder, 57 had a mood disorder = 19.86%. Of those:

  • Major depressive disorder was the most common = 32 total = 11.15%

Those suffering an anxiety disorder totaled 47 which equaled 16.38%

  • PTSD was the most common anxiety disorder = 18 total = 6.27%

Those with a known history of substance abuse totaled 69 which equaled 24.04%

The majority of veterans who attempted suicide did have a known history of a mental illness or disorder. They totaled 604 which equaled 64.60%.

Of those who attempted suicide who DID HAVE a history of mental illness Mood disorders had been reported in 322 attempted suicides = 34.44%. Of those:

  • Major depressive disorder = 194 total = 20.75%
  • Approximately 25% of those attempting suicide had an Anxiety disorder:

PTSD = 115 total = 12.30%

Other anxiety disorders = 91 total = 9.73%

A known history of substance abuse was found to exist in over one-fourth of those attempting suicide which equaled 256 veterans which equaled 27.38%.

A known history of using psychotropic medication was reported in veterans:

  • Attempting suicide = 400 total = 42.78%
  • Completed suicides = 75 total = 26.13%

Antidepressants were the psychotropic medication of choice for both categories:

  • Attempting suicide = 342 total = 36.58%
  • Completed suicides = 64 total = 22.30%

Veterans who had received mental health services in the month prior to their event:

  • Attempted suicide = 570 total = 60.96%
  • Completed suicide = 114 total = 39.72%

Reported self-injurious behavior:

  • Suicide attempts total = 268 total = 28.66%
  • Completed suicides = 38 total = 13.24%

Historical and Developmental Factors which Contributed to Military Veteran Suicide: 

A failed marriage or intimate relationship among veterans committing suicide totaled 134 or 46.69%. Those who experienced the failure within a month before committing suicide totaled 79 or 27.53%.

Many veteran suicides are precipitated by legal problems:

  • Article 15 proceedings or non-judicial punishments = 52 total = 18.12%
  • Civil legal issues = 37 total = 12.89%

Those involved who were reported to have been victims of abuse:

  • Attempted suicide = 612 total = 65.46%
  • Completed suicide = 52 total = 18.12%

Those involved who were reported as perpetrators of abuse:

  • Attempted suicide = 106 total = 11.34%
  • Completed suicide = 39 total = 13.24%

A known history of job loss and instability such as a demotion at work:

  • Attempted suicide = 290 total = 31.02%
  • Completed suicide = 61 total = 21.25%

Deployment Factors which Contributed to Military Veteran Suicide: 

Occurred DURING Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation New Dawn:

  • Attempted suicide = 23 total = 2.46%
  • Completed suicide = 29 total = 10.10%

Those who had a History of Deployment in Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation New Dawn:

  • Completed suicide = 134 total = 46.69%

History of multiple deployments:

  • Attempted suicide = 377 total = 40.32%
  • Completed suicide = 23 total = 8.01%.

Experience in direct combat:

  • Attempted suicide = 158 total = 16.90%
  • Completed suicide = 44 total = 15.33%

Because our treatment for depression and anxiety programs rely on evidence based practices, our Intensive Outpatient Program shares many common methods with other successful treatment methods.  The foundation of our treatment program for relies on the principles of the stages of change, cognitive behavioral therapy, solution focused treatment, skills training and identifying repetitive dysfunctional behavioral relationship patterns to promote recovery from depression and other mental health disorders.  In fact, our Intensive Outpatient Program in Memphis, TN that has been proven to be effective in the treatment of these disorders in seven peer reviewed treatment outcome studies. Unfortunately, in Tennessee, about 3.7% of all adults will have serious thoughts of suicide.  Furthermore, less half of all individuals with any mental illness in Tennessee will receive mental health treatment.

Our treatment center provides services to those who need more treatment than one hour a week, but less than 24 hour care, by providing three hours of treatment per day, three to five days per week, in an intensive outpatient setting. It is also important to keep in mind that women and men often experience depression differently and therefore the presence of depression may also appear differently based on gender. If you or a loved one is showing signs of depression or anxiety, including PTSD, they should be assessed by a trained mental health professional who can help design a treatment plan for depression that can result in recovery.  Treatment for depression and anxiety can be highly successful.  People who have completed our program have provide very high consumer satisfaction scores and reviewsCall us at 901-682-6136 to schedule an appointment.