February 18, 2014

Suicide Rate of Young Veterans Climbs

The federal Department of Veterans Affairs’ Veterans Health Administration (VHA) released data showing the suicide rate for young male veterans using VHA services, those ages 18 to 24, increased from 2009 to 2011, the most recent year for which data is available. The rate increased from 46.1 deaths per 100,000 in 2009 to 79.1 per 100,000 in 2011.

This increase exceeded the rate for civilian males in the same age group, which stayed around 20 per 100,000 for 2009 and 2010, the most recent years for which data is available, according to a USA Today article. The article also points out the rate for this group of veterans is higher than the suicide rate for active duty Army personnel over the same period, which was about 22 per 100,000 from 2009 to 2011.

The suicide rate for female veterans using VHA services increased from 12.9 per 100,000 in 2009 to 15.1 per 100,000 in 2010, before dropping to 14.4 per 100,000 in 2011.

The USA Today article quotes VA epidemiologist Robert Bossarte as saying, "There were several studies after Vietnam that showed increases in suicide and other forms of injury/mortality for about the first five years following return from service. Those rates (eventually) came down to be about the same as the rest of the population."