In 2014, the Veteran’s Administration conducted the largest analysis specific to Veteran’s suicide in United States history. This study focused on data gathered between 1979 and 2014, encompassing a grand total of 50 million Veteran records and providing a comprehensive look at Veteran suicide throughout the past several decades.
As of 2014, the rate for Veteran suicide reached an average of 20 deaths by suicide per day.
Veterans account for only 8.5% of the total U.S. population, yet 18% of all deaths by suicide among adults in the U.S. are Veteran suicides. Further, suicide risk is 21% higher for Veterans as compared to suicide risk for non-Veterans.
Suicide risk factors can take many forms, but specific risk factors for Veterans include:
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Considering these statistics, several organizations have bolstered prevention and intervention efforts for Veteran suicide on both local and national levels. One of the most prominent efforts is a nationally recognized program, “ACE”. The program was developed by the U.S. Army Public Health Command and is now included in the American Foundation Best Practice Registry for Suicide Prevention.
“ACE” is an acronym for the steps any person can take to help keep a Veteran at risk safe:
Ask the Veteran
Have the courage to ask the question, but stay calm
Ask the question directly: Are you thinking of killing yourself?
Care for the Veteran
Calmly control the situation; do not use force; be safe
Actively listen to show understanding and produce relief
Remove any means that could be used for self-injury
Escort the Veteran
Never leave the Veteran alone
Escort to chain of command, Chaplain, behavioral health professional, or primary care provider
Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
To learn more about ACE, please visit www.army.mil.
Other initiatives such as "Mission 22" have been created to help raise awareness surrounding Veteran Suicide. Mission 22 is a large scale public art collaborative spearheaded by Veterans with the intention of creating a way for Veterans and communities to work together. To learn more about this initiative and how to get involved, please visit http://www.mission22.com.