Veteran Suicide

In my years of blogging, I’ve covered a wide array of topics. But few are as important as the one I’m tackling today – preventing veteran suicide. It’s a crisis that’s often overlooked, yet it’s one that affects countless lives each year.

Our veterans, the brave men and women who’ve served our country, deserve our utmost respect and care. But sadly, many of them struggle with mental health issues, leading to an alarming rate of suicide. It’s a problem we can’t afford to ignore.

Understanding the Issue of Veteran Suicide

The plight of veteran suicide is a silent crisis that continues to raise alarm. It’s a complex issue that we must strive to navigate delicately, putting our focus on understanding the reasons behind these sad occurrences.

Statistics on Veteran Suicide

To grasp the magnitude of veteran suicide, let’s delve into some numbers:

Year Veteran Suicides per day Ratio: Veteran Suicides to Civilian Suicides
2016 16.8 1.5:1
2017 16.1 1.4:1
2018 17.6 1.5:1

These figures provide a disturbing snapshot of the enduring tragedy of veteran suicide. The numbers signify an elevated suicide rate among veterans compared to their civilian counterparts. It’s an issue that calls for our undivided attention and commitment to combat.

Risk Factors for Veterans

Addressing suicide among veterans involves exploring the risk factors unique to this group. Various factors push our veterans to the brink, with some being more prevalent than others:

  • Mental health disorders: Trauma from active duty service could result in conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), severe depression, and anxiety disorders. These past experiences might lead to constant battles with mental health challenges, which are often associated with suicide cases.
  • Access to lethal means: Veterans often have the training and access to lethal means, such as firearms. This accessibility may increase the risk of a suicide attempt becoming fatal.
  • Social isolation: Upon returning from active duty, many finally home veterans feel misunderstood or detached from society. This feeling of isolation may intensify a sense of despair, pushing the veteran toward suicide.
  • Substance abuse: The struggle with trauma might lead to substance abuse as a coping mechanism. However, this only serves to fuel the self-destructive path leading to suicide.

In light of these risk factors, it’s important to continue our efforts in prioritizing veteran mental health, providing accessible and effective treatment options. The battle against veteran suicide is an ongoing struggle, but through combined efforts, we can make a difference.

Importance of Mental Health Support for Veterans

Never underestimate the value of mental health support for our veterans. Top-notch mental health assistance isn’t just beneficial – it’s necessary. The numbers speak volumes: veterans are 1.5 times more likely to die by suicide than civilians. This situation underlines the urgency of enhancing mental health facilities and services available to our veterans. Let’s delve into a few critical areas which contribute immensely to our veterans’ mental health support.

Access to Counseling Services

Prompt and adequate counseling services are truly a lifeline for many veterans. By engaging with professional counselors, they can tackle their mental health issues head on. Veterans often battle post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety among other mental health disorders. In fact, according to the American Psychiatric Association, nearly 1 in 4 active duty members showed signs of a mental health condition. Therefore, it’s key we bolster our counseling offerings across all veteran services to ensure no veteran is left unsupported.

Counseling services shouldn’t be limited to just veteran offices and hospitals either. Provision of these services needs to extend to easily accessible places like community centers, schools, and even online platforms.

Peer Support Programs

I can’t stress enough how peer support plays a fundamental role in the mental wellbeing of our veterans. Peer support programs provide a safe space where veterans can relate to others who’ve gone through similar experiences. These programs are often led by veterans themselves, and can provide comfort and ease the feeling of isolation that many veterans may face.

Peer support isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s crucial that these programs are varied and cater to different needs and preferences. A number of successful peer support programs for veterans include:

  • Team Red White & Blue’s social and physical activities
  • The Mission Continues’ service projects
  • Wounded Warrior Project’s coaching and mentoring initiatives

Holistic Approaches to Mental Health

Traditional treatments are indeed effective, but it’s essential to embrace a more rounded approach, considering all aspects of a veteran’s life. This includes physical health, social connections, and even spiritual beliefs. Integrative approaches to mental health can include yoga, meditation, pet therapy, music therapy, and more.

An analysis from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health suggests that yoga, in particular, has been proven to reduce symptoms of PTSD, a common problem among veterans. Implementing these holistic therapies in our mental health support strategies could pave the way for a more comprehensive healing approach for our veterans. Think about it: isn’t it worth trying all possible avenues to provide the best support we can for those who’ve sacrificed so much for our country?

Strategies for Preventing Veteran Suicide

Preventing suicide among veterans is an issue of paramount importance, and it takes a multi-pronged strategy. Let’s delve into some of the measures that have been put in place and discuss how effective they have been in safeguarding the mental health of our brave servicemen and women.

Crisis Hotline Resources

To immediately address veterans in distress, crisis hotline resources play a key role. These services, often offered via phone or online, provide immediate counseling and support. They also direct callers to appropriate long-term care facilities.

One such resource is the Veterans Crisis Line. It offers free, confidential help to veterans, service members, National Guard and Reserve members, and their family members 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. In 2020, this hotline fielded over 650,000 calls, highlighting the importance of immediate access to help.

Building Strong Support Networks

Veterans transitioning back into civilian life often face feelings of isolation. Therefore, building strong support networks is crucial. This can take many forms, from family and friends to organized veterans’ groups.

Peer support programs allow veterans to connect with others who have had similar experiences. These programs offer the opportunity to share stories, experiences, and struggles in a non-judgmental space. In 2019, the VA’s peer support program served over 187,000 veterans nationwide.

Moreover, targeted programs for female veterans, LGBTQ veterans, and veterans of color can address unique needs and experiences these communities face.

Collaborating with Community Organizations

Collaboration with community organizations is another critical way to reach veterans and provide resources. Being deeply embedded in communities, these organizations have extensive networks that can reach veterans where they are. This includes rural veterans who may live farther from VA facilities.

These partnerships provide a variety of resources from counseling to life skills training and recreational therapy. For example, substance abuse prevention initiatives often work collaboratively with local non-profit organizations, like the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars.

By integrating strategies – crisis hotlines, strong support networks, and collaboration with community organizations – we can equip our veterans with the comprehensive mental health support they need without the limitation of conclusion. This multi-dimensional approach ensures we address the unique challenges faced by veterans and meet their specific needs.


It’s clear that tackling veteran suicide is a complex issue that requires a multi-faceted approach. Prioritizing resources like the Veterans Crisis Line and peer support programs can provide immediate help and ongoing support. These resources, coupled with the involvement of community organizations, can offer comprehensive mental health assistance tailored to the specific needs of our veterans. By taking these steps, we’re not just addressing the issue, we’re also showing our gratitude for their service. Let’s remember, each life saved is a testament to our commitment to those who’ve bravely served our nation. I believe that together, we can make a difference and ensure the well-being of our veterans.

By Melanie