Military veterans are at great risk for suicide after leaving the service. USA Today recently reported on disturbing data from the Department of Veterans Affairs, which shows that young veterans are dying by suicide at a rate of more than double the number of civilians who lose their lives this way.
While this news is not good and VA officials indicate that the “data show[s] that severe personal issues driving self-destructive tendencies for those in uniform follow them when they leave the military,” the data also shows that social media outreach and mental health treatment can help to reduce this high rate of deaths by suicide. An experienced suicide attorney knows that competent mental health professionals play an important role in recognizing signs of suicide and in preventing these deaths by providing appropriate care and, if necessary, arranging supervision of those who are at risk.
Skip Simpson, a 20 year veteran, says it is extremely important for service personnel and veterans to know the country is solidly behind them in making sure they are receiving competent and timely mental health care.
High Rates of Suicide are Disturbing
According to the VA data, young veterans out of service are dying by suicide at nearly three-times the rate of troops on active duty. Individuals in the Army are at greater risk than troops in other service branches, and have been both during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as when returning to civilian life.
The data shows an alarming discrepancy when comparing military veterans with civilians.
- For example, veterans ages 18-24 who are enrolled in health programs with the VA died by suicide at a rate of 46 per 100,000 in 2009 and at a rate of almost 80 per 100,000 in 2011.
- When this age group is broadened to include individuals aged 18 to 29, the rate of vets who died by suicide increased from 88 deaths in 2009 to 152 deaths in 2011.
- Non-veterans ages 18-24 died by suicide at a rate of just 20 per 100,000 in 2009 and 2010 as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- In 2009, a total of 36 young veterans who were receiving some type of health assistance from the VA died by suicide in 2009. In 2011, 65 died by suicide.
- The overall suicide rate for active-duty army personnel was around 22 per 100,000 from 2009 to 2011.
- Soldier suicides reached the highest number in 2012, with 185 deaths by suicide. This was a record of 30 deaths per 100,000, which is the highest it has ever been for the Army.
A preliminary review of information about those who died by suicide suggests that most of the people who lost their lives were not receiving mental health assistance although they had been treated for other medical problems by the Veterans Administration. However, the data also indicates that there has been a dramatic increase in calls to the suicide prevention office, which received several hundred calls in 2009 but received almost 55,000 in 2013. This seems to show that more people are beginning to reach out for the help they need.
If proper mental health services are provided to those who are experiencing suicidal thoughts, hopefully the number of veterans who die by suicide could be significantly reduced.
Contact the Law Offices of Skip Simpson in Dallas, dedicated to holding mental health counselors accountable. Call 214-618-8222.