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The Veteran suicide rate for soldiers aged 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 suicide rate for veterans was 22.9 – 31.9 per 100,000 people while the suicide rate for civilians was 8.3 per 100,000 people.

Of the 301 Service Members who committed suicide in 2011 (Data Derived from Armed Forces Medical Examiner System (AFMES):

  • Air Force = 50
  • Army = 167
  • Marine Corps = 32
  • Navy = 52

Of the confirmed completed veteran suicide rate according to Data Derived from the Department of Defense Suicide Event Report (DODSER) Points of Contact (POCs) for 2011 as of 26 April 2012, the data extraction date.

  • Air Force = 46
  • Army = 159
  • Marine Corps = 39
  • Navy = 51

According to AMFES there were 915 Service Members who attempted suicide in the year 2011:

  • Air Force = 241
  • Army = 432
  • Marine Corps = 156
  • Navy = 86

DODSER reports indicate that there were 935 suicide attempts:

  • Air Force = 251
  • Army = 440
  • Marine Corps = 157
  • Navy = 87

Number of veteran suicide rate of attempts according to DODSER report:

  • 1 Suicide Attempt = 896
  • 2 Suicide Attempts = 18
  • 3 Suicide Attempts = 1

Veteran Suicide Rate Risk Factors

Service members in the following groups were at increased risk for suicide as compared to civilians in the same groupings:

  • Caucasian
  • Non-Hispanic or Latino
  • Under 25 years of age
  • Junior Enlisted (E1 to E4)
  • High School Educated

The veteran suicide rate among divorced Service members was 55% higher than for Service members who were married.

The majority of completed suicides were by:

  • Regular Service Members = 88.7%
  • National Guard Members = 7.31%
  • Reserves = 3.99%

Female Service Members committed 5.32% of all suicides in the military in 2011. Female Service Members accounted for 26.52% of all attempted suicides in 2011.

Comparing veteran suicide rates of completed suicides vs. suicide attempts for year 2011:

  • Under the age of 25:

Suicide attempts = 57.22%

Completed suicide = 37.87%

  • Junior Enlisted:

Suicide attempts = 71.02%

Completed suicide = 49.17%

  • More than a High School Education:

Suicide Attempts = 39.79%

Completed suicide = 20.60%

Details of Suicide Events:

Completed Suicides:

  • Using firearms = 172 total = 59.93%
  • Hanging = 59 total = 20.56%

Details of Suicide Attempts:

  • Drug overdose = 559 total = 59.79%
  • Sharp or blunt object = 112 total = 11.98%
  • Drug and Alcohol = 598 total

Drugs = 63.96%

Alcohol = 31.23%

  • Prescription Drugs = 382 Total = 63.88%

Most Service Members did not tell anyone prior to the event:

  • Attempting suicide = 212 total = 73.87%
  • Completing suicide = 709 total = 75.83%

Of those Service Members who did tell someone of their suicidal intentions, they most frequently told their spouse, a friend or family member, verbally:

  • Attempted suicide = 129 total = 13.80%
  • Completed suicide = 46 total = 16.03%

Communicated via text messaging:

  • Attempted suicide = 20 total = 2.14%
  • Completed suicide = 11 total = 3.83%

Communicated via Facebook:

  • Attempted suicide = 8 = 0.86%
  • Completed suicide = 4 = 1.39%

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