September Is Suicide Prevention Month
The month of September is designated as Suicide Awareness Month. Nearly 20 veterans commit suicide each day nationwide, according to VA statistics released last year. That figure lowers the department’s previous estimate of 22 veteran suicides per day. The previous figure was based on data from only 20 states and did not contain full military records from the Pentagon.
The new data shows the risk of suicide for veterans is 21 percent higher when compared to civilian adults. Veteran suicides increased by more than 32 percent from 2001 to 2014, compared with 23 percent for civilians during the same time period. In 2014, veterans accounted for 18 percent of suicides nationwide, despite making up less than 9 percent of the population.
The risk is more acute for female veterans whose suicide rates rose 85 percent compared with 40 percent for civilian women. Among veteran suicides, 65 percent were committed by those 50 years or older, who spent little or no time fighting in the recent wars.
The Association believes that suicide prevention is a high priority and supports the new VA Suicide Prevention Office efforts to increase behavioral health staff, resources, and crisis line capacity. The increase would ensure outreach efforts are expanded and coordinated with the DoD Suicide Prevention Office to be able to answer every crisis-line call.
To contact the Veterans Crisis Hotline, veterans and their loved ones can call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1.