Suicide Rate for Veterans Far Exceeds That of Civilian Population
Nearly one in five suicides nationally is a veteran, 49,000 took own lives between 2005 and 2011
by Jeff Hargarten, Forrest Burnson, Bonnie Campo and Chase Cook
Center For Public Integrity, Aug. 30, 2013
Veterans are killing themselves at more than double the rate of the civilian population with about 49,000 taking their own lives between 2005 and 2011, according to data collected over eight months by News21.
Records from 48 states show the annual suicide rate among veterans is about 30 for every 100,000 of the population, compared to a civilian rate of about 14 per 100,000.
The suicide rate among veterans increased an average 2.6 percent a year from 2005 to 2011, or more than double that of the 1.1 percent civilian rate, according to News21’s analysis of states’ mortality data.
Nearly one in every five suicides nationally is a veteran — 18 to 20 percent annually — compared with Census data that shows veterans make up about 10 percent of the U.S. adult population.
“Anytime a veteran who fought our enemies abroad or helped defend America from within our borders dies by their own hand, it’s completely unacceptable,” Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Committee on Veteran’s Affairs, told an American Legion conference in Washington earlier this year.
The suicide rate has remained consistently high, he said, adding that more work was needed to address gaps in veterans’ mental health care.
“It’s not enough that the veteran suicide problem isn’t getting worse,” he said, “it isn’t getting any better.”
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