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Veterans, mostly ranging in age from 20 through 24, who served in the military during our War on Terror, have the highest rate of suicide among all veterans according to a study survey conducted between 2003 and 2009.  The veteran suicide rate was estimated to be two to four times higher than civilians in the same age group.  The veteran suicide rate ranges from 23 – 32 per 100,000 people while the suicide rate for civilians was 8 per 100,000 people.  Veteran suicide is the second leading cause of death among U.S. military personnel.

Statistics show that between 2003 and 2009 that 94.4% of active duty veteran suicide were male and the modal age was 21 years old.  Nearly 75% were Caucasian, just over half were married and 57% were junior enlisted men.  Just over 20% were in the infantry, 83% were classified as Active and nearly 70% had one or more deployments.  Within this group of completed veteran suicide, just under 70% died by a self-inflicted gun-shot, nearly 20% hung themselves and almost 5% overdosed on drugs or alcohol.

The military conducted its own survey, according to the Navy Times, and found that for every death by suicide there were five attempts at suicide.  The military surveyed 28,536 members from every branch of the service and 2% of those from the Army, 2.3% of those members of the Marines and 3% of Navy members responding to the survey said they had tried to commit suicide at some point in time.  Veteran suicide attempts are alarming

When CBS News did a study of veteran suicide rates in 2007 they found that male veterans in the age range of 20 – 24 committed suicide four times more than the national average.  They put the number at 40 suicides per 100,000 a year.  The veteran suicide rate among males from 17 years of age to 29 rose 26% from 2005 – 2007, according to the Dept. of Veterans’ Affairs in a report dated January 2010.  Tragically 18 veteran suicides are completed on average, every day.

Not surprisingly drugs and alcohol play a significant role in completed veteran suicide.  Information gathered since 2005 indicate that about 29% of veteran suicides included either drugs or alcohol use.  Drugs or alcohol were the cause in almost 30% of veteran suicide deaths in the years from 2003 – 2009.  In veteran suicide attempts, over 45% included drugs or alcohol from 2005 – 2009.

Veteran Suicide Risk Factors

Relationship problems were name the most prevalent stressor among individuals in the military.  Of suicide deaths in 2009, 57% named this as the main factor.

The second most common risk factor was the military or work stress.  These contributed to 50% of suicides from years 2005 – 2009 (DoDSER).

Alcohol abuse at “dangerous levels” and illegal drug use including pain killers were found in 12% of veteran suicide according to the “Defense Survey of Health Related Behaviors”.

  • Among veteran suicide on active duty in the military who took their lives, 25% had been under investigation for misdemeanors or felonies, some were closed and some were still pending.

In 34% of veteran suicides from 2005 – 2009, the individual had legal problems.  Some were with law enforcement and some were disciplinary or administrative actions in the military.

One study revealed that of veterans with PTSD 47% had thought about suicide before finding treatment and 3% had attempted suicide.

Known cases of PTSD have been increasing steadily since 2003 among those in the Army.  If PTSD goes without being treated, it can certainly lead to veteran suicide.

A history of mental or behavioral health issues or diagnosis is certainly associated with an increased risk of veteran suicide or attempted suicide.

Because our treatment for depression relies on evidence based practices, our Intensive Outpatient Program shares many common methods with other successful treatment methods in the treatment of civilian and veteran suicide attempts.  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 depression, PTSD, alcohol and drug abuse in six peer reviewed treatment outcome studies.   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.  If you or a loved one is showing signs of depression or anxiety, 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.  Call us at 901-682-6136 to schedule an appointment.