The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office of Suicide Prevention released a report Wednesday that showed suicide rate among veterans in the country went up by 32 percent from 2001 to 2014. The increase in the suicide rate was a lot more marked among veterans who do not use Veterans Health Administration (VHA) services, especially among female veterans, the report noted.
Titled “Suicide Among Veterans and Other Americans: 2001-2014,” the report said an average of 20 veterans killed themselves everyday in 2014. In comparison with 2010, when veterans accounted for 9.7 percent of U.S. adult population and their suicides accounted for 22 percent of all suicides, the number of veteran suicides fell as a percentage of all adult suicides in the U.S. to 18 percent in 2014, when veterans made up 8.5 percent of U.S. adult population.
Middle-aged and older veterans formed a significant portion of those committing suicide, with 65 percent of veterans killing themselves reported to be aged 50 years or older. A similarly high proportion, 67 percent, reportedly took their lives using firearms.
While rates of suicide have gone up across the country, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in April, the increase among the overall population from 1999 to 2014, at 24 percent, was significantly lower than the increase among veterans.
Veterans are at 21 percent higher risk of suicide than the average U.S. civilian adult, the report warned. Male veterans were at 18 percent higher risk than their civilian counterparts, while the risk shot up to 2.4 times (140 percent increase) for female veterans.
Using VHA services has a clear correlation with suicide rates among veterans, according to the report, with those using the services showing an increase of 8.8 percent, compared with a rise of 38.6 percent among those don’t. The difference was even more stark among female veterans who showed a 4.6 percent increase when using VHA services and a whopping 98 percent rise among those who did not. By comparison, male veterans using VHA services showed an 11 percent rise in suicide rates and those who did not showed a 35 percent increase.
A related news release by the Department of Veterans Affairs also lists the various suicide prevention measures it is taking.